Getting from Calgary to the Vancouver Art Gallery can be accomplished quite easily. A 1.5 hour flight, 15 minutes to get off the plane to walk the Skytrain
25 minutes to City Centre station, then a block and a half walk et voila!
The Monet exhibition was well worth the effort. Vancouver is the only Canadian venue for this exhibition. There are more than 50 paintings focussing on later works, particularly those with Monet’s garden in Giverny as the subject matter. There’s also a good 24 minute film on Monet’s life and work. And a related photo exhibition about the restoration of the Giverny gardens.
Impressionist painting has become so popular now that it is worth remembering or knowing that the work was radical at the time it was first exhibited in the 1870s.
The obvious brush work and unmixed paint was considered crude, unskilled. And the subject matter–landscape and ordinary life scenes–rated inferior to historic or mythic subjects.
Relatively early in his career, Monet became the greatest practioner of paintings as a series of studies about the effects of light and weather on what we perceive.
In the Giverny paintings, Monet continued his serial studies to the point where he abandoned horizons–unheard of for landscapes. And the influence of Japanese woodblock prints brought an emphasis to the surface of the painting. Paintings became about paint, not illusion. Very modern.
And his use of colours grew less realistic and more abstract.
One of the wonderful observations I took away from this exhibition was to see how vigorous his brush strokes were even in the last years of his life. And he lived to age 86!
If you go to this exhibition, buy tickets online. There was a long queue for tickets.