Painting by Claude Monet
As a tweener, this painting at the Carnegie Museum in Pittsburgh reached inside me and changed my relationship to art. Someone saw something, showed it to me, and made me look at the world a little differently. All that beauty that I saw outside did exist for someone else. Needless to say, I discovered why museums placed benches in front of certain painting. I am nowhere near the first person to adore the paintings of Claude Monet. His work has been the way in to visual art for many, many other people.
Being an inquisitive youth, I learned about the Impressionists. A few years of paying attention demonstrated that I had stumbled upon an immensely popular style that drew crowds all over the world. Depending on your opinion, all these artists were masters of light or needed glasses. Either way, they loved color and let it show. They seduced the entire planet.
Now, the other thing you learn from a bunch of books about the Impressionist painters is that life varied from really sucking to sucking a little. That’s no surprise- into every life, a little rain must pour, or something to that effect. And we tend to glorify those tragedies. Vincent Van Gogh figures heavily as an icon of this mode. From Amy Winehouse through James Dean, we never stop talking about the glory of what has been lost.
So, what is a budding artist to think? The normal path must be akin to fireworks: brief and glorious. We cover the news with our dead before their time actors and musicians. That becomes the model of success. After all, where else can you look for an example of a long career lived out in relative calm?
Well, Claude Monet.
But I had no idea for probably ten years, despite those books. After all, who doesn’t just look at the pictures in art books? The words are there for some reason, but really… So, I assumed that Monet did what every other artist did, based on a careful reading of Time magazine: he painted and painted in his twenties and then stopped being useful after he got old, which would mean he turned thirty-five or so.
From 1883 (at the age of 43) until his death in 1926, Monet lived at Giverny, arguably painting his most famous works. His life had its share of tragedies before and after moving to Giverny. But he never stopped being a phenomenal painter, building on prior accomplishments.
What’s it all about?
You’ve Got to Check This Out is a blog series about music, words, and all sorts of artistic matters. It started with an explanation. 153 more to go.
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