By Kathryn Helmore
VANCOUVER – With Claude Monet’s Secret Garden, the Vancouver Art Gallery is inviting the public to fall in love again with the art that helped define modern painting.
“Monet is one of the most important European artists of the late 19th and early 20th centuries,” says senior curator Ian Thom. “His work has been widely influential and allows us to see the world in a novel manner, quite unlike the academic art of the 19th century.”
Monet is known for being foremost in a party of painters who fled the confined and dark studio for the great outdoors. His work is more concerned with light than subjects, and his brush strokes aim to capture energy, not detail. Inspired by a passion for the beauty of nature, Monet does not bother with the trials and tribulations of mankind.
The exhibition, which features 38 paintings sourced from the Musée Marmottan Monet in Paris, opens with “En promenade près d’Argenteuil” — an 1875 painting that wistfully depicts Monet’s wife and son walking through a field of bloomed flowers. The exhibition concludes with work inspired by Monet’s home and garden in Giverny, France. His famous Water Lilies series are part of this period.
“The ‘Nymphéas’ [Water Lilies] are my favorite pieces,” says Thom. “I like the fact that the image seems to hover between representation and abstraction. I admire the boldness of his brush work; an apparently incoherent network of brushstrokes coalesces into an encompassing vista which daringly eschews conventions of composition.”
Organizing an exhibition of this prestige was an undertaking and the event has been in the works for over five years. “Part of the role of the Vancouver Art Gallery is to bring great art to Vancouver,” says Thom. “We are pleased to be able to show Monet’s work in a scale and depth that has never been seen in Western Canada before.”
Claude Monet’s Secret Garden runs at the Vancouver Art Gallery until October 1.claude monet, VAG, Vancouver Art Gallery