Saturday, September 5, 2020

Water Lilies, Of Course

Water Lilies and Japanese Bridge, 1899

One can't talk about Monet without talking about his 250 Water Lily paintings which depicted the flowers and surroundings of his home in Giverny.  These paintings and the gardens themselves were the primary focus of the last 30 years of his life.  He loved them both, and once said, "Aside from painting and gardening, I am good for nothing."  He also felt he was a better gardener than he was a painter - which is saying a lot!

It is lucky Monet found painting (and selling) the lilies "an extension of my life" because they were also a huge extension of his budget.  He employed six full time gardeners, one of whose daily assignment was to dust and de-pollenate the pads and water so that the colorful light they reflected was pure.  And he actually had a branch of the Epte river diverted to his property to fill his lily pond.  This was much to the objections of his neighbors who were almost successful in preventing one of the most beautiful gardens and series of paintings ever created.

The paintings were  beautiful, life like, refined, sparklng, serene:

Water Lilies in the Evening, 1896

Until they became fragmented, garishly colored and, in my estimation  just kind of weren't.

Water Lilies, 1922

The reason for the change was cataracts.  Monet began having visual problems as a result of them around 1912 and his palette became gloomier, murkier and less refined.

Japanese Footbridge, 1922

I consider Monet's last years sad because I feels he was.  Sad, lonely without his wife and son, depressed, in pain,  possibly a bit demented and, in spite of a long overdue operation, losing the greated gift he was graced with: his special eye sight.   But there are others who don't see it this way at all. Many of them love the later water lily paintings and some see them as early abstract art.  Oh well, such are the different viewpoints of the art world.   

And really the last word belongs to Claude Monet: Everyone discusses my art and pretends to understand, as if it were necessary to understand, when it is simply necessary to love.

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