A detail from Monet’s “Water Lilies” triptych via NYTimes
After a 7-year long absence, the Museum of Modern Art has brought its Waterlilies back along with an interesting recent acquisition and two paintings on loan from The Metropolitan Museum of Art. The breathtaking triptych still holds the power to engulf the viewer in its transcendent and meditative quality. The accompanying paintings complete the experience by physically surrounding one in their lightness of color, spontaneous and sometimes pensive stroke, and a velvet-like surface that suggests a deeper psychological imprint of Monet, who worked on these particularly large pieces for years towards the end of his life. The exhibition, occupying a specially intimate gallery space, will be on view until April 12th, 2010.
More text and images after the jump…
One of the panels of “Water Lilies” masterpiece via MoMA
The significance and history of the large panoramic Water Lillies is that of the Museum of Modern Art itself. Its acquisition, along with the large single canvas of Lilies that hangs opposite, dates back to shortly after the tragic 1958 fire destroyed the two original Monet painting previously purchased by Alfred H. Barr from Monet’s studio in Gyverny. These particular pieces were also part of the record-breaking 19060 solo show of Monet’s work that officially bridged the transition from Paris to New York as the art capital of the world.
One of smaller paintings accompanying the triptych, a late Monet titled “Japanese Footbridge” via NYTimes
The large paintings are remarkable not only in their well preserved quality but also in the particular significance they hold in relation to Monet’s life. The Water Lilies series were originally dismissed as failures by the general public when exhibited at The Orangerie in Paris in 1920’s and recieved few visitors in the following 20 years.
A vibrant pleine-air study “Agapantus” via NYTimes
It was not until the advent of Abstract Impressionism, and especially the work of Jackson Pollock, Mark Rothko and Barnett Newman, that Monet’s Water Lilies were looked at in a new light. As part of MoMA’s 1960 exhibition they were presented in abstract non-figurative view. This renewed perspective gave Water Lillies a mythical quality that was not understood previously. They have since become the beloved treasures of the Museum of Modern Art collection, not quite fitting with the rest of its canon. Now the Water Lillies are back in a quieter, more fitting presence to be admired and studied at a reflective pace intended by Monet himself.
Water Lilies in panoramic view via Flickr
A smaller scale Water Lilies (1914-1926) via Artdaily