- Evening Standard
ROTHKO'S RETROSPECTIVE opened in Paris last week; he wanted people to cry in front of his pictures. I never did. Titian's Death of Marsayus made me want to shit myself and run away when I first saw it and I happily admit that the Museum of Modern Art's late Monet water lily painting did, in fact, make me burst in [to] tears on my first trip to New York. That last painting is here, in the final room of the show, warmer now out of the shrill and steely East Coast light. "The most beautiful room in London", the final gallery has already been called, containing five of the enormous late paintings of Monet's lily pond. They surround you and confound you. They make you feel weightless, hovering, with a dragonfly's vision.
THE LATER galleries contain many pictures of dubious aesthetic merit, and a big question mark hangs over the RA's decision to show sketches alongside finished works of art. Only the word "hideous" serves to describe the series of Japanese Bridges from 1919-24, unless it be "uncontrolled", "illegible", "embarrassing", "sad". But the last years are by no means without successful pictures. In the final room of the show [with] the mural-sized studies of water lilies which are now in the Orangerie in Paris, we enter the realms of aesthetic bliss that Monet at his best could deliver. After seeing them, you'll leave the exhibition high as a kite.
- Daily Telegraph
MOST EXTRAORDINARY of all is a wallful of deep-hued, wildly handled canvases where the water lilies are brushed in with swift, impatient audacity. Their forms are continually invaded by brusque reflections of weeping willows. Monet renders these intrusions as clusters of stabbing, impetuous strokes. These emancipated streamers of pigment, unfurling their energy on the picture-surface like hurled ticker-tape, anticipate the exuberant freedom of American Abstract Expressionist painting. But their shocking rawness reveals a side of Monet's complex temperament that he had never exposed before. The butchery of the battles waged so near to Giverny may have affected Monet's mood, making him realise how vulnerable his lovingly cultivated Eden had now become in a country so despoilt by fighting.
DESPITE HIS many lovable and unlovable traits many found Monet elusive and remote. Beside his deathbed was found a volume of Baudelaire, open at the poem, "Tell me, enigmatical man, whom do you love best, your father, your mother, your sister or your brother? ... I love the clouds ... the clouds that pass ... up there ... up there ... the wonderful clouds." On February 3, 1901, the 60-year-old Impressionist was up at six to paint the river view outside his window. Then, he wrote to his wife, "the sun rose with a blinding light ... the Thames was nothing but gold. God, how beautiful it was; I began to work in a frenzy."
- Sunday Telegraph
HOW DO you fancy the Monet t-shirt, notelets and mouse mat? Or perhaps the iridescent scarf is more to your taste; or a watch decorated with water lilies? The most fascinating spin-off is the Monet Seed Kit. Not the artist's cryogenically frozen spermatozoa, but two pots, seeds, growing medium and gardening guide with which to recreate a corner of Monet's garden.
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