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Michael Levin: Come Visit Claude Monet In His New Boston Home

Huffington Post

EdChat™ Nomad
Aug 11, 2016
For countless art aficionados, Claude Monet was a first love, his paintings understandable, accessible, and gorgeous.

The man whose work gave name to the Impressionist movement also connects with the rebel in us--the creative part of our nature that doesn't want to be told what to do or how to do it.

Until Monet came along, artists painted landscapes, seascapes, fruit, or models.

He was fascinated by the way light shimmered and how it recreated leaves, water lilies, water, clothing, and everything else it touched.

He would do multiple paintings of the same subject - the Rouen Cathedral, haystacks, lily pads, a favored spot in nature - to see how different the light appeared at different times of day, or even a year or more later.

He was an active painter for more than half a century.

Boston's Museum of Fine Arts understands your passion for Monet.

Katie Hanson, Assistant Curator for European Paintings, lives that passion.

With the encouragement of director Matthew Teitelbaum, Hanson has created a new room for the express purpose of communing with the spirit of Claude Monet.

You'll find 18 of Monet's greatest works, all but one from the MFA's own collection, now installed in the Lorna and Robert Rosenberg Gallery in the Museum's European Wing

These include pairs of his masterworks, the Rouen Cathedral among them.

You'll see La Japonaise, the fabulous portrayal of his first wife in Japanese clothing, as well as other paintings that reflect his interest in Japanese art.

You won't find clutter.
Each of the paintings has enough room to breathe, to sparkle, and to be admired.

You also won't find huge blocks of print about the artist competing for your attention with the work.

On the walls you will simply see what museums call "tombstones"--the little displays that give you the author's name, dates, and basic information about the painting.

There is a small signboard at one entrance to the gallery with a photo of the artist--Hanson believes that it's essential to see Monet and not just see, well, Monets.

The room is extraordinarily inviting, spacious and with a large circular couch in the center so that you can rest and imbibe the great works.

Hanson placed La Japonaise to create a sightline that attracts visitors to the gallery from other rooms.

She also took a long look at the Polly B. and Richard D. Hill Gallery, a long gallery from which many museumgoers approach the Monet room. She decided that it was in need of an upgrade as well, and the space is now dedicated to Impressionists' and Post-Impressionists' "Plein Air" works - paintings depicting the out of doors.

The walls were repainted so that you have a lighter, brighter, more inviting space, one where you are likely to linger longer and get to know artists such as Alfred Sisley and Paul Signac, whose work adorns the freshly painted walls.

The Plein Air Gallery features more information about each painting, enabling art lovers to get close to the work and experience it the way the artists intended.

One of the Signac paintings comes along with instructions from the artist--step back and see the work from a distance, and then step up close.

Hanson says that she delights in watching viewers follow the instructions and experience the art just as the artist had intended.

Whether Claude Monet was your first love when it came to the world of art, or whether impressionism is something you came to enjoy in later life, make it a point to visit the new Monet installation at the Museum of Fine Arts.

You might find yourself staying longer than you think.