Thursday, 30 January 2014

Monet's Water Lilies

When I was 17, my art class made a study visit to Paris.  I often look back on that trip as a starting point for everything that's happened since.  Somehow the trip opened up a world that previously I'd been oblivious to - the joy of visiting 'real art', of seeing it in the flesh, drawing from it and taking inspiration directly from it.

The trip also set in stone a lifelong differentiation in my mind between Museums and Galleries, but we won't go into that now.


So a romantic get-away to Paris for Christmas was for me filled with the excitement of re-visiting some 17 year old memories.  And sadly, with the need to choose carefully between them, thanks to Christmas, a husband with finite interest and an 8 month fetus weighing me down.  It was a tough choice, the smaller museums of Musee Rodin, Musee Picasso and L'Orangerie, sticking most powerfully in my mind.


I chose L'Orangerie, for Monet's Water Lilies.  I remember so sharply the almost physical impact of being faced with Monet's paintings on a scale they were clearly designed for.  While I recognise his enormous achievements and contribution to the canon of art, Monet's 'pretty' aesthetic isn't my usual preference but when a painting made entirely from blurs of colour brings an entire time of day to life before your eyes, you can only wonder at the magic in his paintbrush.  When there are 8 such paintings, each reflecting in an utterly mundane view the mood created by a different time of day, well, you have no need to visit the countryside any more.