maanantai 30. huhtikuuta 2012

Artist of the Month: Claude Monet.

Nymphéas 1906

WOW is April like over already? It's May Day eve, a big big drunken 'festival' in Finland.
I don't really care of May Day so I'm at our cabin again ^_^ have been here a week, working on my paintings. I'm so looking forward to summer. I can bring out my high heels and shorts soon ^_^
What do you think of the new background? It's by Candy Bird again =^.^=

So, one of my all time favourite Fine artist is the French impressionist master Claude Monet.
My bestfriend told me to remember that 'Monet was a typical example of couter-reaction to previous prevailing style' as he put it. Well that's one way to put it.

Monet was born in November 14th 1840 in Paris. Very early on he wanted to become an artist. In 1851 he went to study at Le Havre secondary school of the arts. At that time the locals knew him for his charcoal caricatures. Years later he gained a mentor in Eugene Boudin who taught him to use oil paints, mostly focusing on techniques for outdoor painting. But Monet would shy away from the current practice of  copying from the old masters. Instead he decided to paint what he saw around him. Ten years later Monet joined the army for a seven-year commitment, but had to leave after two years for he had caught typhoid fever. He later agreed to complete an art course at an art school, but was dissapointed with the traditional art taught at the school so he left and became a student of Charles Gleyre.

The next few years Monet spend traveling. He lived in England and Netherlands for a while before returning to France in 1871 when he moved to Argenteuil. Monet's earlier, some famous, paintings are from the time he spend in Argenteuil. In 1874 Monet's painting, a very famous one, 'Impression Soleil levant' took part in the very first impressionist exhibition in France. One could say this exhibition created the term 'impressionism'.

In 1878 Monet moved to Vétheuil and in 1883 settled at Giverny. Having experienced extreme poverty earlier, Monet began to prosper once more. By 1890 he was able to buy the house he had previously rented. At Giverny he began to concentrate on series of images, where he painted the same subject at different times of the day in different lights. By 1899 his attention was focused on his famous water-garden (which he created) including the Japanese bridge. Monet hired several gardeners to look after his garden and property, instructing them about the layouts and floral purchases. It wasn't until early 1900's when the water-garden began to dominate his work. In 1914 he had a large studio built in the grounds of his house so he could work on the large canvases. In his final years Monet continued to paint, regardless of his failing eyesight. He died of lung cancer on 5th of December 1926 at the age of 86. He is buried in the Giverny church cemetery and his house and estate are open to visit.

Coquelicots, environs d'Argenteuil 1873

Above is one of my favourite Monet 'Coquelicots, environs d'Argenteuil' 1873 (I like to use the real names of the paintings and not the english translations --_--). It's currently on display at Musée d'Orsay in Paris. I had a brief vacation in Paris earlier this month, and stupid me didn't visit this museum. Anyway, this painting is Monet's earlier work which was mainly city subjects and people. This painting however tells of a warm summer day in the country. Monet felt that people were part of the nature, so he had a tendency to slightly blend his characters into the landscape. The 4 figures in the painting aren't supposed to be the main focus in the image. Every time I look at this image, my eyes explore the two charaters in front, moving onto the red poppies on the left. I personally find this painting very pleasant and debonair. Debonair in an imaginative kind of way. It depicts a real place, but to me the poppies and soft palette give an impression of a magical place where every day is like this. Every artist and art lover knows that impressionism isn't about accuracy or proportions, it's about the effect of light and movement (visual experience). This fascination of light and movement was literally science to the impressionist painters. In the poppy painting we can see Monet's attempt to capture how the sun light shines through the clouds. The hay appears lighter and more yellow on the left side, whilst it get's darker on the right side where the larger clouds are. In the soft greens and yellows on the field, and the gentle reds on the poppies Monet gives a settle hint of what's yet to come in his practice.
If you have been lucky to drive past poppy fields in Germany, did you get a feeling of tranquillity, mixed with a little enchantment (similar to what we can experience in Monet's work)? Anyone seen or read the 'Wizard of Oz'? Remember that part 'The Deadly Poppy field', that got me excited  when when we drove past the poppies in Germany when I was little. It was exciting and little 'scary' at the same time, I kept wondering 'are the poppies gonna make me fall asleep?' =D It's that feeling you get when you see a painting (or a photograph, or a movie) about something and oddly when you see the thing for real, your mind/body remembers that feeling you had the first time you saw it. And the real thing is perfect, yet there is still something magical about it.

Le Bassin Aux Nympheas 1899
 As we go through Monet's work, we may begin to get the idea of what Impressionism was trying to convey. By 1899 Monet was focusing his attention on his water-lily garden. In the end he made eighteen paintings, depicting the Japanese bridge and the water-lily garden in different times of the day. Again, one of my favourites from Monet 'Le Bassin Aux Nympheas' 1899 (all the bridge-pond paintings are pretty much named le bassin-- you need to pay attention to the year). This painting gives us a more gentle and lighter colour palette that I think describes Monet's true style perfectly. It's a classic Monet. He had done landscapes and still-lives before, but this is where his style and passion truly lied. As a fellow (rookie) artist, I find it very admirable when an artist is able to paint water and reflection simultaneously, it's quite tricky. More the reason to admire them if they manage to make the result look interesting. I don't think anyone could paint water-lilies as soulfully as Monet. I keep mentioning enchantment and this painting is perhaps the single most perfect example of how a painting becomes enchanting. The tones in the bridge mirror beautifully the pink and white water-lilies. I very much believe that in order to make something enchanting and romantic (in art) one needs the right palette and subject, otherwise it would feel like one is trying to force it. I think the reason Monet's water-lily and Japanese bridge paintings are so beautiful is because they look so effortless. Though I can imagine how much time and effort he spend on making them. In many ways Monet's reputation as the impressionist master is justified. Impressionism is there to arouse feelings in us and perhaps we can get the impression of the feeling the artist had when they painted the painting in question. By looking at 'Le Bassin' I can tell that Monet loved his water-garden very much. He applies the same care to this paintings as he did to his garden and estate. Perhaps Monet's work could be imagined as a target of comparison to all artist who wish to create something spellbinding. Even a person who doesn't know anything about art, should be able to recognize if the artist was in love with the painting whilst they were making it. Like, they loved doing what they were doing. However I imagine this applies to all professions, you can tell if somebody likes their job or not. In short, Monet loved what he was doing. 

Saint-Georges majeur au crépuscule 1908
This next painting is called 'Saint-Georges majeur au crépuscule' 1908. According to Monet, this painting is from his trials period in Venice. That's basically what every artist should do at point in their career, experiment. Sometimes the results are good and sometimes bad. Part of me adores this painting because the colours are so strong and vibrant. I reckon a painting like this can only be done by a person who is not afraid of colours. I suppose this painting could serve as a reminder of how a truly great sunset looks like. It shouldn't be difficult to tell that this painting is not one of Monet's greatest pieces. The way he constructed the image is rather child-like and definitely lacks the feeling of enchantment and true genious, which he exhibited in 'Impression Soleil levant' for example. Whilst looking at Monet's other similar landscapes like the paintings of the Waterloo bridge, they come much closer in expressing his authentic style and vision. The paint job on Saint-Georges looks like it was done with great care and concern, even if it tries to look energetic. You can see how careful Monet was not to blend the line between the orange and blue too much. If one wishes to make a painting that is supposed to look like it has a lot of energy, then give it all the energy you have got. Faking energy is hardly ever successful. Paint fast, stab the canvas if you must, and I tell you, all that energy will be carried into the painting. Ahem...well this still is a beautiful painting, very eye-catching. At this time Monet was getting absorbed by his work, and he states that landscapes of water and reflection were becoming and obsession to him. It wouldn't be too long until he would achieve that recognizable style and look of his.

Nymphéas 1916

Me, I have had a crush on Monet's work since I was a little girl. The poppy field, 'Nymphéas' and the Japanese bridge were the first paintings I saw. To me it felt like Monet's work was literally breathing enchantment. Especially the water-lily paintings convey Monet's idea of how wonderful nature is. This is a secret, but I am a hopeless romantic. When I look at the water-lily painting above I see this place where flowers bloom all the time, the sky is pink and you can walk along that pond where Monet's water-lilies grow. Perhaps I have rambled on for too long already. However what I'd like you to understand is that the water-lily paintings Monet made, are massive. Literally massive and all of them are pretty much named 'Nymphéas'. The paintings can be shown individually, but Monet's true intention was to line the canvases side by side, showing the whole image of the water-lily pond. His water-garden was his main focus for the last thirty years of his life. This water-lily painting is from the mid 1910's when he was making these darker versions of the water-lilies. As you can see there are some vibrant reds, yellows and purples on the water-lilies. Although Monet had moved away from those brilliant reds and blues we saw in 'Saint-Georges' we can see that he hadn't abandoned strong colours completely. It was around 1916 when began to apply more yellow, ochre and light greens to his water-lilies. I'm guessing this change from dark to light follows his passion to capture the water-garden in various lights. One could say that that is a simple idea, but it takes good eye and understanding to pull something like that off successfully. I love all Monet's water-garden paintings and you can see a few of them at National Gallery in London for example. I have been there maybe 3-5 times, and every time I go see Monet's paintings. If my memory serves me correctly, there are 2 Japanese bridge paintings and 2 water-lily paintings (none of these are famous I'm afraid).

To return to my friend's quote from earlier, it is true that Monet's work expresses the need to move away from the techiniques and styles that were exhibited in art at that time. Perhaps it is not a surprise that Monet's work wasn't really popular at first. If you have seen his work live you know that up close it's just chunks of paint, it's messy and you wonder how this pile of mess can depict anything. But as you step back, suddenly you see water-lilies or a bridge. Monet became famous for his style eventually and I like to think that Monet along with other impressionist began to set the stage for other art movements, such as Fauvism and Expressionism.
I love art that's not Neoclassical. I can appreciate it, but to me what Monet, Picasso and Rousseau did is much more interesting and beautiful than what those NC masters did.
(If it's not Baroque, don't fix it! xD)

This is A. Panty biding a good day to you.
Thank you for reading!


2 kommenttia:

  1. If you want to make your home really look really beautiful , paintings are the best way to do it believe home looks very well decorated . If you are looking to find Oil Paintings Reproductions at very economical price or cheap rates, you must visit

    1. I agree, paintings should be part of every home's decor.
      As for reproductions, ask art students or blooming artists to make them. It's your chance to support the young and upcoming.