Wednesday, 11 March 2009

Monet and the Impressionists

One of my 101 goals is #81 - Go to an art exhibition. Monet and the Impressionists is on at Te Papa until 17 May. It is described as "the largest and richest collection of Impressionist paintings ever to come to New Zealand". It featured twenty-seven paintings by Claude Monet, including works from his Water Lily, Haystacks, and Rouen Cathedral series, alongside Impressionist masterpieces by Renoir, Degas, Cézanne, Pissarro and others.

I'm not someone who professes to understand the finer nuances of art or art history. However, I can appreciate a masterpiece when I see one, and this exhibition is full of them. I was thrilled to see The Waterlily Pond/Japanese Bridge (1900) up close; it is every bit as perfect as I'd imagined, and prints or photos like these don't do it justice. It's hard to know where to begin with describing the real thing. We went back to the painting several times to look at it from different distances, and noticed new details every time.

I loved this quote from Monet:
"Colour is my day-long obsession, joy and torment."
(Somehow it just doesn't seem right to write it in black and white.) I hadn't realised that colour, particular pastel tones, was so predominant in impressionist art. The detail and difference in tone in a simple snowflake or piece of sky was stunning; who would have thought there could be so many shades of white?

If you are able to see the exhibition, or one like it, for yourself, then I can highly recommend it. It's not often that we get to see masterpieces like this up close and personal (especially not in New Zealand).


Kellee said...

Monet's work is truly amazing in person. I saw quite a few of his pieces at Musee d'Orsay in Paris back in '07. His work really is in a class of its own.

Love that quote too...very apt.

Donna said...

I love Monet!

Manaiakalani said...

You have convinced me - I have to get to Wellington for a look-see.
I have seen Monets in France and Edinburgh and you can't get enough of them.
Right Grab-a-seat, here I come