You are in Artists > Claude Monet
Place(s) of work: Giverny (fr)
A founder of the Impressionist movement in France, Claude Monet created an increasingly radical series of works that revolutionized painting and helped carry the medium from the 19th century into the 20th. The term "Impressionism" was coined by art critic Louis Leroy as a derogatory reaction to Monet’s 1872 painting Impression, Sunrise; the name was subsequently adopted to encompass the movement, defined by open composition, a free use of color, emphatically visible brush strokes, and an overriding concern with the changing effects of light--most often in outdoor settings, as captured in open-air painting--with an aim of capturing the visceral "impression" rather than the minute detailing. “For me, a landscape does not exist in its own right, since its appearance changes at every moment," Monet said. "But the surrounding atmosphere brings it to life - the light and the air which vary continually. For me, it is only the surrounding atmosphere which gives subjects their true value.”
Born in Paris in 1840 and raised in Normandy, Monet came to Paris in 1862 and began to study under Charles Gleyre--an apt name for the teacher of an artist who would become famous for depicting the dissolving qualities of strong light. During this time, Monet met many of the artists who would together form the crux of the Impressionist movement, including Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Alfred Sisley, and Camille Pissarro. In 1870 Monet married Camille Doncieux, who would become his most famous early model, and soon after the couple fled to London to escape the Franco-Prussian War. There the artist studied the work of J.M.W. Turner, whose visionary paintings provided inspiration for Monet’s later approach to the use of color and light.
In 1871, Monet returned to France, moving with his family to Argenteuil, a rural enclave outside Paris that was a popular country retreat. In this removed setting, Monet spent the 1870s shrugging off many of the conventions of European painting at the time, taking inspiration from Japanese woodblock prints, de-emphasizing linear definition, introducing unorthodox colors into shadow, and employing defiantly unmixed colors throughout. In 1883, the artist moved to Giverny, a lush bucolic village in Northern France that he had first spied while passing through by train. His home and beautiful gardens there became host to many of his artist friends.
Through his career Monet continually portrayed places multiple times, examining the impact of different times of day and qualities of light on the subject. The artist’s work from the 1890s focused heavily on several thematic series--importantly poplars, haystacks, and the cathedral--each painted over and over again in varying conditions. From the turn of the century until his death in 1926, Monet’s work increasingly flirted with abstraction--in part because of the artist's struggle with cataracts. It was in these final years that Monet devoted himself to painting the water-lily pond in his gardens at Giverny, producing a series that features some of the most famous and enduring images in Modern art.
Watch MoMA curator John Elderfield discuss Monet's Reflections of Clouds on the Water-Lily Pond (c. 1920):
Watch a short documentary on the artist:
Watch a video of Monet's home and garden in Giverny:
Watch a video slide show of Monet's paintings, set to the music of Debussy:(read less)
Techniques & Media: Drawing, Painting
Inspirations & Key Themes: Color, Light, Nature, Plein air painting, waterlilies