Claude Monet (1840–1926) stands like no other painter for the impressionist style, and as the French “Master of Light”, he was also a central pioneer of 20thcentury painting. He painted by the seaside, at Normandy’s rugged coastal cliffs, and on the banks of the Seine, with the water surfaces in his pictures reflecting the bright, vivid colours of lush vegetation in his summer landscapes and the frozen fog’s mysterious grey and blue in his winter ones. Monet’s light and colours change on the canvas in accordance with nature’s constant transformation, as well as the diversity of atmospheric impressions that the painter gleaned from his motifs—and it was his urge to capture this diversity that moved him to paint many such motifs in series.The Albertina is devoting a large monographic exhibition to Claude Monet’s treatment of colour, which has seen little examination to date, as well as to the painter’s passionate fascination with the world of plants and water in the garden of his country home in Giverny. Three paintings from the museum’s own holdings as well as important loan works from international museums and private collections illuminate Monet’s development from realism to impressionism and onward to a mode of painting in which colours and light gradually separate from the subjects that reflect them, with the motif breaking free from mere observation of nature. Eventually, albeit only after Monet’s death, these late works would pave the way for abstract expressionism in painting.
(Photo: Claude Monet, View of Vétheuil, 1881, The Batliner Collection, © The Albertina Museum, Vienna)