24 October 2022
A lecture on the exhibition at Fondation Vuitton (5 Oct. 2022 – 27 Feb. 2023), Paris
The exhibition "Monet - Mitchell" in combination with the retrospective of Joan Mitchell’s paintings at Fondation Vuitton, Paris, is an unprecedented "dialogue" between the works of two great artists, Claude Monet (1840-1926), with his Water Lilies, and Joan Mitchell (1925-1992) with her abstract canvases. Both left their mark not only on their epoch but also on subsequent generations of painters.
Monet’s Water Lily murals were little noticed when first presented at the Orangerie in Paris in the 1920s. But after WWII with the rise of Abstract Expressionism on both sides of the Atlantic, those great murals with their nearly abstract and vivid painterly surfaces came to be seen as the key precursors of post-war abstract art. The current exhibitions trace the connection between the aging Impressionist master and one of the few American painters of her generation, Joan Mitchell, who settled in France in the 1950s, to work in the same light and landscape as the Impressionists.
In the Water Lilies, Monet aimed to recreate in his studio the motifs he observed at length on the surface of his water lily pond in Giverny. Joan Mitchell, on the other hand, would explore a memory or a sense of the emotions she felt while in a particular place that was dear to her, perceptions that remained vivid beyond space and time. She would create these abstract compositions at La Tour, her studio in Vétheuil, a small French village where Monet had lived in the 1880s and very close to Monet’s final home and studio at Giverny.
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