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Monet in XXth Century  
Francesca Romana Orlando
ISSN 1127-4883     BTA - Telematic Bulletin of Art, February 28th 1999, n. 165

The exhibition at the Royal Academy of London shows Monet's masterpieces (1840-1926) made after 1900. Even if the artist was sixty years old at the beginning of the new century, his artistic research was still dinamic and full of innovations, and most of his late works, in fact, have strong simbolic relevance, that go further than the impressionistic style.

The most interesting characteristic in these works is their organization in series. Along the rooms, in a cronological pathway, we can see the same objects portraited en-plein-air along different times in the day. We should notice the act of focusing on the same object with the same perspective and of varing it with coloristic effects, that move from sweet light colours in the daylight to dark shadows of the evening.

The exhibition particularily stresses the attention on seriality by showing many examples of the same subjects togheter in the same room, underlining that seriality is one of the most interesting aspects of contemporary art that will lead to Warhol's art thirty years later. Many psychoanalitic interpretations have been made but, in my opinion, it is more interesting to evalue the choice of seriality as an answer of the artist to the mechanization of modern life. Both Monet and Warhol, in fact, used to work on the same subjects to find out the human "mistake", the irrational both with painting and with serigraphy.

The iconography of the paintings testify the many travels of Monet. He was in London between 1899 and 1904, when he worked on the Waterloo Bridge series, with grey and light blue colours, then the Charing Cross Bridge and the House of Parliament series, that show the typical mist of London. Another important journey was in Venice in 1908. In two months he realized many paintings of facades in Canal Grande, ended in studio during 1912. In 1903 and 1909 Monet made the famous Ninphees series, begun in '800 and exhibited in 1900 Durand-Ruel Gallery in Parigi. He painted flowers and the pond of his garden in the house of Giverny, a small town near the river Sein (north-west Paris), acquired in 1890. The large cut of the images will get shorter during 1914-17, when the ninphees will become big colored spots on the canvas.

This subject was a starting point to the most famous project of the french artist (begun when he was 73 years old !), Le Grandes Décorations, monumental canvas of 1917-26. in these works it is not easy to recognize the subject and there is a sort of abstraction that ipnotize the viewer, for example in The Water Lily Pond at the Kunsthaus Museum of Zurich (1915-26) made of two panels (200 x 300 cm. each).

It is interesting to notice, eventually, that this exhibition is not just of the many exhibitions of famous artists, that call for an easy large audience, as we can often see in Italy. Very often, in fact, exhibitions are made of few important works and many prints or designs, with the certainty that the audience will come to see it because of the importance of the name of the artist. Let's think about the several exhibitions in Rome of Warhol, Dalì and Picasso, that, even if they showed important works, they did not have a precise curatorial cut.



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