Thursday, December 09, 2010

Claude Monet (1840-1926) at the Grand Palais, Paris

by Michelle Nott

Claude Monet will be at the Grand Palais in Paris until January 24, 2011. Most art lovers have already heard this months ago when it opened in September. But, have they gotten their tickets yet? With just a couple months left, now is the time to get on line and in line for the biggest Monet exhibit ever. Oddly enough, Monet has been much more acclaimed by Americans and by the British than by his own fellow Frenchmen. Parisians, French, Europeans, anyone on the continent or who can get here should take advantage of this extraordinary display of life and color and light.

The first room initiates the visitor to Monet' s beginnings as a child and then as an artist, as a husband and then as a father. His personal and professional foundations are rooted in Normandy. Throughout his work, he never loses sight of who he is or where his inspiration lies.

The visitor will experience so much more of Monet than what floats on the lilipads. Those greenish, bluish, water plants can be found on every mug, dorm room poster, and tote bag from here to eternity. But, Monet was much more than the decorative artist of current, general opinion.

After spending his childhood in Normandy, Claude Monet would travel to Fontainbleau like many artists of the time, into Paris, back to Normandy, to the Mediterranean, to London and to Italy. He also did magnificent portraits and classic still life paintings. His brush strokes were quick in some scenes, long and drawn out in others. In all, he painted life into objects and people via his mastery of light and color.

His search for light and its variations led him to paint series. Monet either went back to the same location at the exact same time of day to paint the exact same subject; or he would paint the exact same subject from the exact same location but at different times of the day. The beauty in his idea invites the viewer to enter into a day, or simply into a moment and feel the sunshine or the surrounding fog.

Only in the last room of the exhibit does the visitor get a good look at Monet's lilipads. He painted these in the last years of his life. The immense, mural-sized Nympheas were left to France with the stipulation that they would not be displayed until after his death. However, Monet fans will still need to take the short walk over to the Orangerie to see those.

The exhibit is well worth the ticket price, the train ride (or plane ride), and day out in Paris. To read a more in-depth description of the exhibit, please refer to Monet in Paris.

Once you have your ticket, get to the Grand Palais before the specifically-printed time in order to get in line. Yes, there is still a line but certainly not as long as the line for visitors without tickets (which can literally take hours to get to the door). Once through the security screening, check your coat to the right and proceed to the left. I highly recommend the audio-guide, which is available in many languages. Children can also take advantage of a specific, age-appropriate audio-guide although only available in French.

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