The exhibition concentrates on Monet's work between 1880 and the beginning of the 20th century. Special attention is given to his late paintings and sometimes unexpected facet of the pictorial magician.
The front painting of the exhibition is the landscape "En Norvégienne" (1887) from Musée d'Orsay, Paris. The canvas depicts three ladies clad in light dresses and bright hats. They are Monet's stepdaughters Germaine, Suzanne and Blanche Hoschedé, shown fishing from a boat on the Epte. This type of row-boats, known as a Norwegian, was a very wide-spread in France at the end of 19th century. The spectator views the scene as if seated in another boat alongside. Nothing moves; it seems that time stands still. Even the reflection in the water is entirely clear. A few algae are visible under the surface--the fragment that was most difficult to capture, as Monet wrote in letters to his friends.
Canvases of Claude Monet still influence our visual experiencing of nature and landscape today. Visitors of the 'Monet' retrospective would be able to view his renowned Mediterranean landscapes, Atlantic coastal scenes and various locations and places along the banks of the River Seine, as well as his flower meadows, haystacks, water lilies, fog-shrouded cathedrals and bridges.
In his paintings, Monet experimented with the changing play of light and colors in the course of the day as well as during different seasons. Magically, he created moods through reflections and shade.
The exhibition comprises 62 paintings from the Fondation's collection as well as from the Musée d’Orsay in Paris, the Metropolitan Museum in New York, the Pola Museum in Japan, the Tate in London and from other institutions. 15 paintings loaned by private collections are shown extremely rarely to the general public.
Left: Claude Monet, Rouen Cathedral, the Portal, Morning Effect, 1894.
After the death of Monet's wife in 1879, the artist experienced the turning point in his art. His time as a pioneer of Impressionism was over. Still not generally acknowledged as an artist yet, he was becoming more independent financially and even has got an opportunity to visit the Mediterranean. Light in this region provided the artist with new impulses for his paintings. His art became more personal. Monet moved away from already established canons of Impressionist style.
The exhibition at Fondation Beyeler is a journey through Monet’s pictorial worlds. It is arranged according to different themes. The first room is devoted to numerous and diverse representations of the River Seine. One of the most notable exhibits here is a rarely shown portrait of his second wife Alice Hoschedé, sitting in the garden in Vetheuil near the Seine.
The next room displays Monet’s representation of trees. Inspired by colored Japanese woodcuts, the artist repeatedly returned to this motif. He was interested in depicting trees in different lights, their form and the shade they cast.
The bright colors of the Mediterranean distinguish a group of canvases Monet painted in the 1880s. In a letter written at that time, he told about the “fairytale light” he had discovered in the South. As the artist admitted himself, he was “crazy about the sea”. A large section of the exhibition is devoted to the coasts of Normandy and the island Belle-Île as well as to the ever-changing light by the sea.
1.2. Claude Monet, Les rochers de Belle-Île, Port-Domois (Rocks at Belle-Île, Port-Domois), 1886. Cincinnati Art Museum.
Monet also loved London, where he has found his refuge during the Franco-Prussian War of 1870/71. As a successful and already well-known painter, he came back there at the turn of the century. At Fondation Beyeler you can find his famous views of Waterloo and Charing Cross Bridge as well as of the Houses of Parliament in different lights, particularly in the fog, which turns all forms into mysterious silhouettes. These paintings are Monet's tribute to William Turner, the famous forerunner of Impressionism.
Monet’s late work consists almost totally of paintings of his garden and waterlilies in a pond. The Beyeler Collection owns some outstanding examples of these. The exhibition’s last room is devoted to Monet’s garden in Giverny.
'Monet' retrospective is open till May 28, 2017.
Written by Vlad Maslow on materials from Fondation Beyeler's official cite and artdaily.com.
Main illustration: Claude Monet, Coucher de soleil sur la Seine, l'hiver (Sunset on the Seine in Winter), 1880, Pola Museum of Art, Japan.