Lily Heise from the Paris walking tour experts Context Travel recently stopped by the Monet exhibit currently taking place at the Grand Palais. Since Paris is currently overrun by an imminent shortage of petrol, enduring public transport strikes and the madness known as contemporary art week, we thought it would be fitting to give you a little dose of tranquility, starting with Monet’s lovely waterlilies…
Every season ushers in a series of new exhibits in Paris and one of the most talked about this autumn is certainly “Claude Monet 1840-1926” at the Grand Palais. Slightly skeptical due to all the buzz, I visited the show last week to see if it was actually worth all the hype… and left two and a half hours later completely enchanted by the artistic impressions of the master impressionist.
The retrospective is certainly a must for impressionist art-lovers, bringing together over 200 works from 70 international collections, it offers a once in a lifetime chance to see so many of his paintings united side by side. Many of the works come from the Musée d’Orsay, however, dozens come from North America, where an avid appreciation of the Impressionists developed much ahead of France.
I was rather lucky to tour the exhibit with artist Marie Theres Berger who gave us some wonderful insight into the works on display, the artist’s career and his personal life. The show was beautifully curated, with the works organized thematically instead of purely chronologically, demonstrating how Monet’s style evolved through his subject matter, often revisiting the same subjects years later, such as the stormy Normandy coastline. Visitors can also admire Monet’s experiments with light through his famous series, including the lofty haystacks and the façade of the Rouen Cathedral painted at different times of day.
My favorite part of the exhibit was probably the section dedicated to people, because this was the most surprising, the artist being first and foremost revered for his landscapes and flowers. Figures were merely a continuation of his study of light and color, nevertheless, it was fascinating to see his depictions of his first wife, the very pretty Camille, and his artist friend Frédéric Bazille in the various Déjeuner sur l’herbe.paintings and other scenes, giving us a little peak into Monet’s private life.
The one disappointment of the exhibit (besides the crowded traffic jam at the very beginning of the show) was the poor representation of his later works. The last room of the show, dedicated to the end of his life, is rather sparse and the painting not among his best. I guess visitors will just have to go to the Orangerie Museum afterwards to admire his large water-lily tableaux there!
The exhibit runs through January 24, it is highly advisable to purchase advance tickets to the exhibit and to aim to go either first thing in the morning or in the evening to escape the intense crowds. Context Travel is organizing very small group tours of the exhibit led by art experts on Monet.
- Context Travel’s walking tour of the Monet exhibit
- FIAC, Paris’ big contemporary art fair is also happening this week
- Cutlog, the newest contemporary art fair, is taking place at the Bourse du Commerce