“Even if you don’t know much about art, Monet is a household name,” said Speed ââArt Museum curator Erika Holmquist-Wall. “A work of Monet of this caliber has never been presented in Speed’s lifetime. To be able to come here and see it in person is really important.”
Currently on loan from an anonymous collection, “Water Lilies”, one of the earliest versions of the painter’s famous water lily subjects, is the focal point of Gallery 13 at the Speed. The painting, one of 25 in Monet’s first series of water lilies, captures the complex relationships between water, reflections and light, and is a beautiful meditation on the passing of a moment in time.
“Impressionism is to take the same subject and paint it under different lighting and atmospheric conditions,â Holmquist-Wall told the Courier Journal. a slice of time.”
Monet began painting water lilies in the 1890s after moving to Giverny, France. The famous impressionist never needed to travel far to find the subjects he loved to paint. The artist, who was also a master gardener, organized his property in Giverny as if it were a huge painting. With a team of assistants, he built a sumptuous pond of Japanese water lilies surrounded by gardens. “Water Lilies”, which he painted in 1897, represents one of Monet’s first explorations on the theme of the water lily pond. It became a subject to which the artist devoted himself for the rest of his life.
According to Holmquist-Wall, “after the first series of water lilies he put them away until World War I when he was inspired to revisit the series”.
For the next 30 years, until his death in 1925, the French impressionist painted hundreds of canvases of varying sizes, filled with images of his water lily ponds. Depending on the time of day and the season, the color palette of each of his water lily paintings varies depending on the sunlight. Later, the artist’s eyesight began to deteriorate, but he continued to create. During this time his style of painting became more abstract, possibly because cataracts had blurred his vision.
“He offered a series of enormous panoramas of water lilies 20 feet long, which are in the Orangerie Museum in Paris, France to the French State as a symbol of peace on armistice day in 1918, the day that, in effect, ended the world war,â Holmquist-Wall said.
Every day, the massive display of water lilies at the Paris museum is visited by hundreds of visitors who view them as Monet intended, as an immersive and meditative experience. Although Monet’s exhibit at Speed ââis miniscule in comparison, it is worth considering that without “Water Lilies” there might not have been a future collection of Water Lilies to enjoy at Orangerie Museum. The first series of paintings, of which “Water Lilies” is a part, inspired all of Monet’s future art.
At Speed, Holmquist-Wall placed “Water Lilies” on a wall facing an earlier work by Monet, “The church of Varengeville-sur-Mer, gray weather.” The recently restored painting of a church on a hill overlooking the ocean is a permanent piece of the museum’s collection and was created a decade before Monet began working from the shores of his lily pond at his home in Giverny.
The temporary exhibition also includes an exhibition of a selection of photographs by Stephen Shore taking of the water lily pond and the grounds of Monet’s house.
“I suggest you bring your senses to a work of art like ‘Water Lilies’, especially when it’s a work dedicated to a single moment,” said the Speed ââcurator. “Inhale and let your eyes relax and you will find yourself gazing below the surface of the water at the water lilies growing underwater. In this moment you can almost hear the bees buzzing and feel the sunlight glistening on the water. ‘pond.”
On loan to Speed ââuntil February 2023, “Water Lilies” is a rare opportunity to see one of the world’s finest Impressionist works from the 19th-century art movement, without having to travel far from home.
âWe were able to obtain this exquisite painting from collectors in the area and we are very pleased with their interest in sharing this priceless painting with us and our communities,â Speed ââdirector Raphaela Platow said in a press release. “It is our honor to present this beautiful and ancient water lily painting by one of the most famous artists in concert with our painting by Claude Monet and to celebrate the month of summer through the artist’s observing eyes. â
Holmquist-Wall agreed, saying “it’s really an invitation to dive into the moment of time that Monet captured with simple materials, pigments on canvas. I think this is the alchemy and magic of art. And now to be able to experience it in person is pretty amazing.”
Reach Features reporter Kirby Adams at [email protected]
Visit the Speed ââArt Museum
WHERE: 2035 Third Street South.WHEN: Friday 1pm-8pm, Saturday 10am-5pm, Sunday 10am-5pm COST: Members and front-line health workers: free Adults: $15 Seniors (60 and over): $10 Children 4-17: $10 Children 3 and under: freeMORE INFORMATION:Speedmuseum.org502-634-2700