“Le Parisien de Paris” returns: Monet’s Retrospective at the Grand Palais
It’s been thirty years since France has seen a complete retrospective of Claude Monet’s work. The exposition is currently on display at the Grand Palais in Paris. Since I recently visited Giverney, the site of Monet’s home and garden, I thought perhaps I had had my fill of his happy waterlillies for a while. Fortunately my friend convinced me that this was THE exhibit to see right now, so after a few failed attempts due to lengthy queues (if only those darn Parisians would quit striking and get back to work!) we went yesterday afternoon.
The collection consists of 176 paintings presented chronologically and thematically. My first impression was of sheer awe. It was overwhelming to realize the magnitude of his body of work and to see the development of his particular studies side by side. Take, for instance, his paintings of haystacks. While lovely and ethereal as individuals, as a whole they make for a profound visual experience, demonstrating the obsessive nature of the artist in his need to portray his subject in different lights at different times of day.
This intensity can also be seen in his study of the islands Belle-Ile-en-Mer and la Creuse. Monet described his acute scrutiny of his subjects when he wrote “I know very well that to really paint the sea, you have to see it every day, at every time of day, at the same place to understand life at that particular place”. These paintings (which Monet dubbed the “série lugubre”) aptly portray the duality of the sea: her “sauvagerie terrible” and her sweet serenity.
If you’re in Paris right now, you don’t have a choice. You simply must go to this exhibit. And if you’re not already here, it’s worth making the trip, because this retrospective is truly a once in a life time experience (well twice if you’re lucky).
And now for something a little grittier…next up, Larry Clark at the Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris. Stay tuned!
Practical Info: The exhibit runs until January 24, 2011 at the Grand Palais. For more info visit the beautiful site dedicated to the retrospective: http://www.monet2010.com.