Monet and his metamorphoses at the Fontevraud museum

Monet and his metamorphoses at the Fontevraud museum

The museum of modern art exhibits around thirty paintings by the leader of impressionism, in an attempt to unravel the mysteries of the metamorphosis of his painting over the course of his life.

From impressionist views of Paris to quasi-abstract representations of Giverny, the modern art museum of Fontevraud-l’Abbaye (Maine-et-Loire) recounts the metamorphosis of Claude Monet’s painting throughout his life.

Until September 18, the exhibition Metamorphoses, in the art of Claude Monetthe very first in this museum, which opened in May 2021, presents some thirty paintings bequeathed by the painter’s son to the Marmottan museum in 1966. “Such an exhibition in a village of 1,600 inhabitants is exceptional”, rejoices Dominique Gagneux, director of this museum located in the royal abbey of Fontevraud.

Organized according to a chronological thread, the exhibition begins with landscapes painted in the 1870s, among which a misty view of the Gare Saint-Lazare and a setting sun on the beach at Pourville, sketched in the pastel colors already dear to Monet.

A panel recalls the somewhat cold reception given to the Impressionist by many art critics of the time: his paintings “cause laughter”, “are lamentable” and “denote the greatest ignorance of design”, wrote a columnist in 1877. Success would come ten years later.

In the 1890s, Claude Monet began to paint in series, representing the same landscape at different seasons or times of day, on canvases where the play of light was enough to transform the motif.

“Colorful Fog”

“Monet’s work is a journey through a colored mist. His techniques and his points of view evolve but in more than fifty years of painting, there is no break. says Dominique Gagneux. Installed in Giverny since 1883, Claude Monet devoted more and more paintings to him and gradually centered his work on the weeping willows and the water lilies in his water garden.

While in classical painting panoramic formats are mainly used to represent vast landscapes, Monet innovates by only sketching a fragment of a park.

The canvases from this period, some one meter wide by three, were hung on dark purple walls, which contrast with the mauve of the wisteria and the light green of the water lilies. “We wanted to show these canvases in a new light, with a different aesthetic from the white walls of the museum. Marmottan-Monet . Even for well-known canvases, this allows another experience,” underlines the director of the museum.

The size of the rooms allows visitors to step back a few meters sometimes necessary to distinguish patterns which, seen up close, were drowned in a mass of colors.

Recently restored, Water lilies, willow reflectionsa quasi-abstract canvas where only a few water lilies can clearly be seen against a blue and mauve monochrome, had not been exhibited to the public for several years.

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