It’s quite something to put in an exhibition that before it opens garners more articles about the cost of the entry ticket. But that’s the Money in Monet.
It is indeed not a cheap exhibition to visit, with tickets averaging at the twenty quid mark, but for fans of blockbuster art exhibitions with headline brandnames like Monet, whats the money got to do with it?
It is indeed a blockbuster display, being the first purely Monet exhibition to be staged in London for more than twenty years. With nearly 80 paintings by the man on display, for Monet fans this is pretty much one of those “once-in-a-lifetime” chances to see so many paintings in one space.
One nice change to the way the display is arranged is that each painting isn’t accompanied by a small block of text on the wall, but by a number, and a booklet which you look up the numbers. Painting by numbers, although it’s clear that some of the paintings have been swapped around after the booklet went to print, presumably as the curators realised an opportunity to improve the exhibition.
The exhibition is superficially about architecture, but Monet never really painted architecture, which may sound like an odd thing to say when an art gallery has put nearly 80 paintings on buildings on display.
What Monet did was paint light. He was far more interested in how light reflected off buildings, how the air around buildings shaped how people saw them. He would paint buildings many times at different times of day and year just to see how the changing light affected how the building appeared.
He said in an interview in 1895 “Other painters paint a bridge, a house, a boat … I want to paint the air that surrounds the bridge, the house, the boat – the beauty of the light in which they exist.”
Architecture aided Monet with the business of painting. A red-tiled roof could offer a complementary contrast to the dominant green of the surrounding vegetation, while the textured surfaces of buildings provided him with screens on which light plays, solid equivalents to reflections on water
While Monet is generally thought of as a landscape painter, the display reminds us of how manmade landscapes can be just as beautiful to paint.
The exhibition’s been open for a few months now, so the mega-fans have already been, and the crowds slightly less crowded.
If you want to marvel at Monet, then the exhibition, Monet and Architecture is open until the 29th July.