Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Monet at Grand Palais

New York Times reported recently that In France, Monet Is Rediscovered:
In the city where his art was once ridiculed as unworthy of wallpaper, Claude Monet is making a showy comeback. He is being lionized in two expansive exhibitions in Paris this season, and two French museums — the Musée d’Orsay and the Musée Marmottan Monet — have been feuding over his mythic painting of a misty orange and gray sunrise.

Monet, who was born in Paris and once scorned by its intellectuals, made more than 2,500 paintings and drawings before he died in 1926 at age 86 and is the focus of an exhibition that opened Wednesday at the Grand Palais. It is the largest retrospective of his works in France in 30 years, and more than 83,000 people have already reserved tickets for the show, which runs through Jan. 24. The exhibition was organized by the Musée d’Orsay with the Grand Palais, a national arts exhibition center near the Champs-Elysées.
One can see why Monet was not revered by intellectuals - his wild popularity is suspicious to begin with.  He is not intellectual like Paul Cézanne, nor sensualist like Pierre Bonnard, or exotic like Paul Gauguin, or crazy like Vincent van Gogh.  He was too popular and too picturesque.  But, these constitute no reason to rate him lower than those other lions.  Monet was a pensive observer and he described the world through his particular lenses.  His style of serene detachment was valid in its own way and he was the both the originate and the master practitioner of his style and that says a lot.

New York Time's follow up article, Paris Rediscovers Monet’s Magic at Grand Palais reviewed the exhibit with such description:
But Proust also meant that Monet didn't just idealize places; he wasn't just a French weatherman with paints. He showed us Argenteuil and Belle-Île, the Houses of Parliament in London and the banks of the Seine, vibrating with electric color, "parts of the world," as Proust said, "that are themselves and nothing but themselves," places that already existed in our imagination, as if waiting to be discovered and that now bid for our affection.

"On the threshold of love we are bashful," Proust noted. “There has to be someone who will say to us, 'Here is what you may love: love it.'"

Monet does exactly that.

New York Times Image

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