Claude Monet in Paris - Liberal Resistance

Claude Monet in Paris

Editor’s Note: Sometimes, in all the press of conflict, we forget what we’re fighting for—specifically, in a Trumpian age of vulgarity and greed, we defend what is beautiful, graceful, and wise. In the following essay, our Central European correspondent, Colette Hartwich, reminds us of that by directing us to a recent exhibition of the works of the fabulous Claude Monet.

One of the Paris’ summer sensations is the huge circular space dedicated to the “Les Nympheas”, also known as the “Water Lillies” cycle, a room dedicated to paintings of Claude Monet’s garden pond in Giverny, about 75 kilometers away from Paris.

 

“Les Nympheas” are not only about what the painter actually sees, but more about what he feels – an impression of a specific time, light and space. Which is why one of the late 19th century/early 20th century styles of painting is called Impressionism(1). It frees the artist from constrictions of realism, for instance the laws of perspective and paves the way to the seventh art – cinema(2). Cinematic qualities can be found in many of Claude Monet’s paintings – a movement and a romanticism that captures a viewer’s eye. An ever-changing light that graces every of Monet’s works. In the 1890s Monet painted a series of paintings from the same point of view, but at different times of day. It’s considered the highpoint of Impressionism and has certainly valuable cinematic qualities, if there’s ever a chance to see all of the series together in one place.

 

This special liberation of the eye or sight also permitted Raoul Dufy(3), who was championed for painting horse races, to discover that at a certain speed color comes before shape. In love with light the Impressionists discover the beauty of nature anew every time and allow us to not only see, but also feel and hear the rustling of the wind in the poplars.

 

George Clemenceau, also called “the Tiger” because he helped France to stand firm during WWI, built, as the French Prime Minister, a museum in Paris for “Les Nympheas” by Claude Monet, which the painter himself has generously given to the city of Paris while still being alive and active for his own country, but also after Claude Monet’s death organized sumptuous State Funeral for the painter. This honor has only been granted to one other French artist – Victor Hugo.

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(1) Impressionism is a 19th-century art movement characterised by relatively small, thin, yet visible brush strokes, open composition, emphasis on accurate depiction of light in its changing qualities (often accentuating the effects of the passage of time), ordinary subject matter, inclusion of movement as a crucial element of human perception and experience, and unusual visual angles. Impressionism originated with a group of Paris-based artists whose independent exhibitions brought them to prominence during the 1870s and 1880s.

(2) The great German philosopher Hegel said that there were six forms of art: 1. Architecture 2. Sculpture 3. Painting 4. Music  5.Poetry and 6. Dance. His followers applied his ideas to the seventh great form of art, cinema, which he did live to see, but which he would have doubtlessly would have appreciated.

(3) Raoul Dufy (3 June 1877 – 23 March 1953) was a French Fauvist painter, brother of Jean Dufy. He developed a colorful, decorative style that became fashionable for designs of ceramics and textiles, as well as decorative schemes for public buildings. He is noted for scenes of open-air social events.