Claude Monet, a master of color, light and shadow | Arts | DW | 23.01.2017
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Claude Monet, a master of color, light and shadow

We've bought notecards and posters with his motives, but what makes the works of Impressionist Claude Monet so accessible? A show of his works in Switzerland sheds light on the talent of the French master.

Claude Monet (1840-1926) is one of the most significant and popular artists of the 20th century. The works of the Impressionist artist draw crowds - and not only to the recently opened Museum Barberini in Potsdam.

The Beyeler Foundation near Basel, Switzerland, is also devoting a current exhibition to Monet, who is one of the most important artists in its collection. "Light, Shadow and Reflection" focuses on the artistic development of the French painter from the era of Impressionism to his famous late work. It shows his Mediterranean landscapes, wild Atlantic coastal scenes, stretches of the River Seine, meadows with wild flowers, haystacks, water lilies, cathedrals, and bridges shrouded in fog.

The artist loved experimenting with the changing play of light and colors in the course of the day and the seasons, thus creating atmospheres that were both magical and recognizable.  

A descendant of Monet opens the exhibition

Philippe Piguet, a descendant of Monet, traveled to Basel in order to open the exhibition, recounting his personal memories of the paintings' themes during the vernissage. One of the paintings, for example, shows his grandmother at a river in Giverny where he himself used to play as a child. A woman sitting in a boat on that painting is Germaine, one of six children of Monet's second wife, Alice Hoschedé. According to him, Piguet is the only descendant of Monet's patchwork family that is still alive.

Portrait of Claude Monet (Terra Foundation for American Art, Chicago/Art Ressource, NY)

Claude Monet between 1888 and 1890

1880 - a turning point in Monet's life

The exhibition of the Beyeler Foundation focuses on the middle phase of Monet's oeuvre from 1880 to the early 1920s. The year 1880 was an important turning point in the artist's life. Dark clouds were hanging above his life as his wife Camille was dying and financial resources were scarce.

The entrepreneur and collector Ernest Hoschedé offered his family a sanctuary in Vétheuil on the Seine. That's where Monet and Hoschedé's wife Alice started a secret love affair that piqued his creativity. During this time, Monet's paintings, dominated by the play with light and reflection, became increasingly abstract. A famous example of this phase is "Rouen Cathedral" accomplished in 1894. Depicted on the painting is the famous church with different light reflections during different phases of the day.

so/ad/kbm (with dpa)

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