Monet face to face with abstract art in Madrid

A woman walks past Claude Monet's "Marine, effet de nuit" (R) and Mark Rothko's "Untitled" during the media inauguration of the exhibit "Monet and the Abstraction" at Madrid's Thyssen-Bornemisza museum February 18, 2010. REUTERS/Andrea Comas

MADRID (Reuters Life!) - Making the connection between leading Impressionist painter Claude Monet and abstract art is the main aim of a new exhibition in the Spanish capital.

More than 100 works to be shown from Monday in Madrid’s Thyssen-Bornemisza museum will draw attention to the link between Monet (Paris 1840 - Giverny 1926) and a stream of young, abstract, post-Second World War artists such as Jackson Pollock, Mark Rothko and Willem de Kooning.

“Never before has an exhibition put Monet and his successors face to face and compared just how much they were immersed in the same work,” said Guillermo Solana, the museum’s art director, who said the exhibition was three years in the making.

One of the founders of the Impressionist movement, Monet left the hectic life of Paris to move to the small town of Giverny where he created his own world and designed his own garden, the subject of many of his paintings.

“He spent the last decades of his life creating his own artistic style, far removed from what was happening in Paris. That’s why he was always seen as old-fashioned,” said the exhibition’s curator, Paloma Alarco.

But the arrival of abstract art after the Second World War turned the spotlight again on Monet, because the abstract artists saw something more in his use of colors, his unique style of painting and techniques.

“We are trying to show what they saw in Monet,” said Alarco.

The exhibition aims to present the works in a novel way, too, using brightly colored background walls for some of the paintings, as impressionist painters used to do to see how the colors worked with each other, and how the eye reacted to them.

“It’s a museum’s duty to pose questions for the public to think about, give them a new reading of classic works of art. I hope it also makes it easier for them to look at abstract art,” said Alarco.

Reporting by Teresa Larraz; writing by Nigel Davies; editing by Tim Pearce