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Changing Impressions

A new exhibition at the de Young Museum shows Monet in a whole new light.


"Monet in His Garden at Giverny" (1921, autochrome), 7 inches by 91/2 inches, by anonymous.

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"Water Lillies, Willow Reflection" (1916-19, oil on canvas), 78 3/4 inches by 70 3/4 inches, by Claude Monet.

Photo: Courtesy of the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, Musée Marmottan Monet, Michel Monet Bequest, 1966, inv. 5119

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 "The Artist's House Seen From the Rose Garden" (1922-24, oil on canvas), 35 inches by 36 inches, by Claude Monet.

Photo: Courtesy of the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, Musée Marmottan Monet, Paris, France, W.1944  

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The highly anticipated Monet: The Late Years—on view at the de Young Museum Feb. 16 through May 27—will reframe the way connoisseurs view the artist. Widely considered the impressionists’ greatest landscape painter, Claude Monet (1840-1926) evolved beyond his impressionist masterpieces into more abstract compositions in the 20th century. A sequel to the monumental Monet: The Early Years, an exhibit shown at Legion of Honor in 2017 that drew 205,000 visitors over the course of only three months, explored his formation as a young artist. “Now we get to see where Monet’s creative energies were focused at the end of his career when he was deeply concerned with his legacy,” says Melissa Buron, director of the art division at the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco.

While Monet: The Early Years focused on the artist during his youthful pre-impressionist years—1858 to 1872, when he was developing his technique—Monet: The Late Years traces his practice from 1913 to his death, a time when he moved into the stylistic threshold of abstraction and explored themes related to a period of uncertainty in his life, among which were issues such as loss—including failing eyesight—and the menace of war.

Monet: The Late Years features approximately 60 paintings (some that will be seen for the first time in the United States) and is the first exhibition in more than 20 years dedicated to the final phase of his career. Notable works include more than 20 examples of Monet’s beloved water lily paintings, as well as large-scale canvases measuring between 14 and 20 feet wide that form a series of mural-style paintings reminiscent of the Grandes Décorations project. One of Monet’s most radical works on view is “The Artist’s House Seen From the Rose Garden,” which shows a richly expressive style highlighted by gestural strokes in red and yellow hues over blue and green. 50 Hagiwara Tea Garden Drive


Originally published in the March issue of San Francisco 

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