At de Young: Monet's Unwanted Water Lilies And Weeping Willows
Diane Wilsey President and Thomas Campbell CEO of Fine Arts Museum - Photo courtesy of Chris Knight with LeftCoastScenes.com
Calling it a “gift of love to the city” the curators of Monet - The Late Years introduced the new exhibit at the De Young Fine Arts museum in Golden Gate Park, San Francisco — on the eve of Valentine’s Day.
It’s a fabulous collection of Claude Monet’s later works from 1909 to 1926 in collaboration with the Kimbell Art Museum in Fort Worth, Texas. By tyhis stage in his life Monet was wealthy enough not to have to paint and sell art works —which he found very liberating. He used his money to buy a country house and remodel its gardens and ponds.
“When I have no longer need to sell, I have managed to work; now, I think I am as hard on myself as it’s possible to be.”
Over this period he suffered several personal tragedies such as the death of his wife and oldest son plus the constant reminder of the horrors of the first World War that were everywhere in France.
He shut himself off in his ideal gardens and shut himself off from the need to sell paintings. Instead, he found an endless exploration in his water lilies (and weeping willows).
Monet shut the world out — and the world shut him out. There was little interest in his later works even though his earlier paintings remained popular. When he died in 1926 there were more than two dozen unsold paintings.
His later paintings seem like scribbles of familiar shapes — they either reflect what he was seeing because of his failing eyesight or perhaps they reflect a fundamental insight from decades of artistic discipline.
The violet colors of his water lilies are said to reflect a condition of Monet’s failing eyesight which allowed him to see into the ultraviolet spectrum and see colors that would normally be filtered out by normal eyes.
Close-up — you can see the energy of his brushwork and you can easily imagine his hand moving and dabbing across the canvas right there in front of you.
It’s a great exhibition that brings together the best of Texas and California art lovers— and the wealthy private owners that loaned their Monets to the exhibit. It’s at the De Young for the next three months till May 27.