As a kid, I had this bizarre obsession with Monet’s artwork. I had books about his life and compilations of his paintings. I loved the one print reproduction we had in our house, an earlier work called The Poppy Field (seen just below). I think my real fascination with Monet, though, came with his later work, his series collections.
I suppose a quick background of the French impressionist is necessary at this point.
Claude Monet lived from 1840 to 1926. In 1862, Monet became a student of Charles Gleyre in Paris, where he met Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Frédéric Bazille, and Alfred Sisley. They shared new approaches to art, painting the effects of light with broken color and rapid brushstrokes.
Monet is considered a founder of French impressionist painting and the most consistent and prolific practitioner of the movement’s philosophy of expressing one’s perceptions before nature. The term Impressionism is even derived from the title of one of his paintings, Impression, Sunrise. What distinguished Monet from the other Impressionist painters was his innovative idea of creating Series paintings devoted to paintings of a single theme or subject. With the repetitious study of the subject at different times of day, Monet’s paintings show the effects of sunlight, time, and weather through color and contrast.
On my my favorites of Monet’s series is those of the Japanese footbridge across the famous water lily pond. He painted the bridge over and over in various seasons and time of day, even at various ages. The first photo below is entitled The Bridge over the Water-Lily Pond and is a clear, beautiful interpretation of Monet’s lovely garden. The second was painted nearly 20 years later (in 1923) from the same perspective. As an impressionist, Monet painted what he saw. Here we see vividly the deterioration of Monet’s eyesight just a year before his death. The red tones that dominate the painting are characteristic of cataracts, from which Monet suffered greatly.
It occurred to me a few days ago that I have sort of mimicked Monet’s series style art unknowingly with the pictures I’ve taken of my apartment building in various times and seasons. I realize now that I only have summer and winter photographs, but now that it’s a conscious effort, I’ll be capturing spring and fall too, when the times comes.
Maybe when it gets (much) warmer outside, I’ll even attempt to sketch this perspective, to truly pay tribute to Monet’s magnificent contributions to the world of modern art. However, I doubt the Internet world will ever get a chance to see my efforts in that regard… there’s a reason I devote all of my artistic vision to writing instead of drawing (and it’s certainly not for lack of effort).