A change of scene - VOICE Louisville

A change of scene – VOICE Louisville | Pro Club Bd

Germaine Hoschedé, Lili Butler, Madame Marie Jenny Durand-Ruel, Georges Durand-Ruel and Claude Monet at the water lily pond at Giverny in 1900.

The Speed ​​Art Museum eagerly welcomed Claude Monet’s “Nymphéas” onto the scene last April

Through Elizabeth Sinta
Photos provided by The Speed ​​Art Museum

The click of my heels echoed off the floors and walls of the empty Speed ​​Art Museum as Erika Holmquist-Wall, the Speed ​​Art Museum’s chief curator and curator of European and American paintings and sculpture, led me up the grand staircase. At the top of the white marble staircase is a gallery that has housed Claude Monet’s Nymphéas since it went on loan in April. “Although this painting has timeless appeal to everyone, it feels like an important moment to be able to share with our visitors. First of all, Monet is known for the water lilies, and Monet is as famous and recognizable a name as one can get. Even people who know very little about art recognize the name,” explains Holmquist-Wall. “Monet’s popularity over the years has made him a household name in art history, and the water lilies are inseparable from his name.”

When you think of Monet, the water lilies immediately come to mind. Similar to “Mona Lisa” and Leonardo da Vinci or “The Starry Night” and Vincent van Gogh. The name fits the painting, but what about the story and meaning of the piece?

In the summer Monet packed his bags and traveled to northern France to paint the exquisite landscapes and subjects that lay before him. However, as he got older, escaping to the country every summer wasn’t as comfortable or feasible, so he decided to create his ideal artistic environment. So in 1883 Monet bought land in Giverny, France, where he began to create a magnificent lily pond and surrounding gardens that would inspire his creativity for the rest of his life.

After completing the water lily pond, he created his first series of water lily paintings, including “Nymphéas”. “This work is from the first series of waterlily paintings, when his garden at Giverny was new to him and he discovered its charm. There is an element of wonder and discovery in the early Waterlily series; They feel so modern they’re almost abstract. It’s not necessarily about the lily pads themselves. It’s about capturing the quality of the light,” said Holmquist-Wall.

You’ll find that “Nymphéas” is a close-up of the subject, and that’s because it’s meant to evoke a full sensory experience in the viewer. “Letting your eyes relax is an invitation to slow down and bring all your senses to a work of art. If you let it slide, so to speak, you’ll see the sunlight rippling off the water and the lily pads that sit just below the water’s surface. If you listen, you can almost hear the lapping of the water, the hum of the bees or dragonflies and the chirping of the birds,” explains Holmquist-wall.

After Monet completed the first series of water lilies, he placed them in his studio to work on other projects. It was not until the end of World War I that Monet got back to painting the water lily pond. According to Holmquist-Wall, the Water Lilies Cycle, the second series of water lily paintings, was given to the French state as a symbol of the peace agreement made after the Armistice of November 11, 1918. Unlike the first series, the artworks in this series vary in size and are painted much more loosely (meaning his aging eyes). This series is in the Musée de l’Orangerie in Paris.

Holmquist-Wall combined Nymphéas with a selection of photographs from The Gardens at Giverny: A View of Monet’s World, a portfolio series by American photographer Stephen Shore, and Monet’s recently restored painting The Church at Varengeville-Sur -Mey, gray weather.” “The three artworks in the gallery explore Monet’s fascination with light and color and his quest for the perfect setting. This story is told through an early work created during his travels, a key work from his time in Giverny, and a contemporary photographer contemplating the world Monet created,” explained Holmquist-Wall.

So as you enter the gallery, take a deep breath and let your imagination take you back to Monet’s oasis, where waves lap the pond, dragonflies blissfully float by and the artist crafts mystical paintings that are paired with his name to the end Time.

Speed ​​Art Museum
2035 South 3rd St
Louisville, Ky 40208

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