NY exhibit offers new look at Monet

NEW YORK Mon Apr 23, 2007 11:16am EDT

1 of 3. The oil on canvas painting 'Woman Painting' by Claude Monet is seen in an undated publicity image from Wildenstein & Company. The New York gallery is offering a new look at the Impressionist master Monet, exhibiting works never before seen by the general public in the most comprehensive retrospective in New York for 30 years.

Credit: Reuters/Wildenstein & Company/Handout

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NEW YORK (Reuters) - A New York gallery is offering a new look at the Impressionist master Claude Monet, exhibiting works never before seen by the general public in the most comprehensive retrospective in New York for 30 years.

The non-commercial exhibit at Wildenstein & Company from April 27 to June 15 features 62 works from Monet's long career including three never seen by the public and two which have never before been reproduced in color.

Among the masterpieces going from a private collector's wall to a public showing for the first time is 1867's "Adolphe Monet in the Garden of Le Cocteau," showing Monet's father reading in the shade of a sun-splashed, kaleidoscopic garden.

Viewers will recognize many of his early paintings of the French countryside and the subsequent water lilies but the show also includes his lesser-known and increasingly abstract late pieces, in thick impasto style, which appear to have influenced 20th Century artist such as the cubists and Jackson Pollock.

There are also original letters written by the man who lived from 1840 to 1926 and defined French Impressionism.

Organizers of the show are examining his near universal appeal. Why does everyone seem to like Monet?

"It's because it makes you feel good about life. People just are happy when they look at Monets," said curator Joseph Baillio. "Some intellectuals feel maybe Monet was a facile artist because his images are so reassuring. Monet is challenging, but you have to be able to go into depth with Monet to be able to understand where the challenge is."

Guy Wildenstein, great-grandson of Nathan Wildenstein who founded the gallery in Paris 130 years ago, traded on his famous family name to convince collectors to lend some of their most prized possessions. Forty-one works come from private collections.

One collector known for never lending his pictures relented when Wildenstein said the show was in memory of his father, Daniel Wildenstein, who spent 50 years working on a Monet catalogue and died in 2001.

"He looked at me and said, 'Just tell me which ones you want.' I was nearly in tears," Wildenstein said. "He has three Monets and he lent us two of them."

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