London’s National Gallery’s landmark exhibition, “Monet & Architecture,” is the first exhibition chronicling Claude Monet’s career through his paintings of architecture, from humble coastal villages to ostentatious halls of government.
“Monet & Architecture” features more than 75 paintings by the leading impressionist artist. Richard Thomson, a fine arts professor at the University of Edinburgh, curated the show.
In anticipation of the exhibition, the National Gallery released an animated trailer that sends the viewer soaring over the artist’s compositions, rendered three-dimensional in a kind of paper-cut, handmade aesthetic.
Monet described his unique approach to architectural scenes as based on the desire to “paint the air that surrounds the bridge, the house, the boat – the beauty of the light in which they exist.” The architectural subject matter and the encircling environment are tied together in a mutually supportive relationship.
With a career spanning from the mid-19th century to the early-20th century, the artist’s work effectively illustrates Europe’s Second Industrial Revolution and its radical reshaping of urban and agricultural life. Reflecting the societal shifts contemporary to Monet, the exhibit is divided into three sections– “The Village and the Picturesque,” “The City and the Modern,” and “The Monument and the Mysterious.” Urban ensembles, such as his numerous depictions of London’s smog-sodden River Thames and the Palace of Westminster, highlight the glaring contrast between historical scenes and the encroaching impact of modern society.
Of the work displayed, more than a quarter are on loan from private collections across the globe. While the National Gallery possesses its own Monet collection, the museum coordinated with a broad range of institutions, such as the Brooklyn Museum and the Cleveland Museum of Art, to put the exhibition together.
“Monet & Architecture” runs until July 29, and is located in the Venturi Scott Brown designed Sainsbury Wing.