Claude Monet 'Nympheas' 1915 Pinakothek Munich

Monet’s waterlily paintings at the Musee de L’Orangerie

Claude Monet 'Nympheas' 1915 Pinakothek Munich

Who doesn’t like Claude Monet (1840–1926)? Nobody as far as I know. Though when I was first learning about the French impressionists I thought I was very cool calling him a chocolate box artist. Well so what! I wish I was so lucky as to be a chocolate box artist. Well sort of. I still get peeved when artists sell out to advertising. Recently on swedish tv they’ve been showing an ad with David Bowie’s brilliant song ‘Heroes’ as the soundtrack. Awful. Why David? It trivialises the song completely. Monet of course had no say in the matter. But probably he as well as Van Gogh and all the other holy artistic saints may’ve sold their souls too. Who knows?

Anyway when we were last in Paris we were lucky enough to visit the Musée de l’Orangerie where 8 of Monet’s Water Lily series is permanently exhibited. During the last 30 years of his long life Monet painted around 250 paintings of his garden in Giverny many of which feature a water lily covered pond. Wouldn’t it be great to see them all in the one place? I suppose exhibiting 250 large paintings would be a bit of a logistics nightmare for a gallery. Though 60 water lily paintings from around the world were gathered for a special exhibition at the Musée de l’Orangerie in 1999.Monet_Waterlilypond_1926

Thankfully we got in to the gallery just before enormous crowds of tourists blocked out the view. The Monet’s are in their own room and you can sit and relax and contemplate them on any number of seats. When I first saw them they didn’t affect me much but after sitting there awhile you kind of become submerged into them. They sweep over you like giant colour clouds. I loved them in the end and didn’t want to leave his watery, magical world.

Yes they’re pretty abstract and you can see how they connect to the Abstract Expressionists of the mid 20th C. Monet’s still about his perceptions before nature though. The abstract expressionists got rid of nature and left the perceptions. The photographs I took above look kind of barren really but that’s something the real paintings definitely are not. They seem to embody the nature of water in their lovely loose, flowing technique. And the colour harmonies are rich and subtle. I was surprised with how soft and pearlescent they were in real life. They somehow have the quality of real pearls. In the end he’s a painter you can always enjoy on a purely visual level.
Musée de l’Orangerie Jardin des Tuileries 75001 Paris

website: http://www.musee-orangerie.fr./
phone: + 33 (0)1 44 77 80 07

Opening times:
Open everyday, except on Tuesdays, May 1st and December 25th
from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. (premises start to be vacated at 5.45 pm)
English guided tour (1h30) (for individual visitors)
Every Monday and Thursday at 2:30 pm
Groups: reservations only
Reservations should be made writing to Musée de l’Orangerie / group reservations (FAX: + 33 (0)1 44 77 81 12)

Here’s a helpful amateur photographer’s guide to taking photos in Paris. 

‘Our society is run by insane people for insane objectives. I think we’re being run by maniacs for maniacal ends and I think I’m liable to be put away as insane for expressing that. That’s what’s insane about it.’

John Lennon

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3 Comments

    1. Thanks Anji. Glad you like them. You get a little idea of what the paintings are like. It’s a gallery well worth going to. It’s got some fantastic impressionist paintings there too like Gauguin etc.

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