Claude Monet and his paintings
Fellow Impressionists, such as Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Vincent Van Gogh and Paul Gauguin, clearly also had a extraordinary impact on the popularity of this Impressionism Movement. However it was Monet's ability to capture the nuances of nature in the materiality of paint - the physical substance with which he worked - that make him stand out from his contemporaries. Without the experimentation of Monet on the depiction of light and mood, his endless playing with form and color, the major movements of early 20th Century art would not have been as they were. Monet can be said, without hyperbole, to be one of the most influential figures in European 20th Century art.
Monet accomplished this by transforming the expressive variations of nature into paint, focusing on the subjectivity in painting rather than adhering to traditionally accepted, figurative ideals. In other words, he painted what he saw in a moment including the effects of the weather and the changing position of the sun. This method of painting paved the way for abstract modern artists in the twentieth century who, like Monet, challenged the notion of what it means to be "modern".
Monet's view of the world captured the essence of creative expression through his palette of gentle, pastel colors and suggestive brushstrokes. Like any radical departure from traditional art making, the beginnings of Impressionism drew mixed responses from audiences and critics alike.
Monet was born in Paris, France on November 14, 1840. He spent his childhood in La Havre. He showed his artistic talents at young age and was well known for his charcoal caricatures. In 1856 he became friend of fellow artist Eugene Boudin, who is also his mentor. Boudin influenced Monet to paint in nature outdoor. He also encouraged Claude to try oil paint and pastels, instead of charcoal as a medium for his artwork.
Claude Monet moved to Paris to study painting in 1859. He attended the Academie Suisse, an informal place where artists met and models and material were available for use. During this time, Monet met fellow artist Camille Pissarro, who would become a close friend for many years.
In 1862, Monet enrolled for formal art instruction under Charles Gleyre. A few other artists, like Frederic Bazille, Alfred Sisley, and Pierre-Auguste Renoir were also students of Gleyre. Together they shared new approaches to art, painting the effects of light plain air with broken color and rapid brushstrokes, in what later came to be known as Impressionism. But at that time Monet had limited success in the acceptance of his art. The annual Salon jury set the standard for French artists at the time, and many of Monet's paintings were rejected.
Impression, Sunrise was painted in 1872, depicting a Le Havre port landscape. It was the painting from which the movement took its name. After an article in a newspaper laughingly referenced the style of painting but Impressionists appropriated the term for themselves. The public did not take to the new style, complaining of "sketchy lines" and "blurred appearances". Critics compared the execution of Monet's Impression: Sunrise in particular to the "musings of an infant" and "unfinished wallpaper". But despite these initial reactions. Impression, Sunrise found a buyer marking the beginning of Monet's career as o professional artist.
The first Impressionist exhibition was held in 1874. The exhibition was held at a studio on the Boulevard des Capucines and also featured the art, prints and posters of other artists such as Edgar Degas, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Alfred Sisley, Berthe Morisot, and Paul Cezanne. But overall, the exhibition was not a success.
While Monet was hard at work producing approximately 300 pictures in the space of five years, his wife's health was declining and his debts were piling up. Perhaps as a means of escape from his own troubles, combined with the need to sell paintings to pay the bills, his images at this time not only depicted rural idylls designed to appeal to the bourgeois and tourists, but also were produced at an almost industrial pace.
Whatever the reasons, this period of development, including much exposure to landscape painting and the repetition of subject matter, led to the execution of his early 'series' paintings, which he produced in Giverny, north-west of Paris, where he lived from 1883.
The notion of painting the same scene during different seasons of the year, or different times during the same day, capturing the changing weather and sunlight, was a technique favored by the Impressionists. Monet's use of this technique is typified in his multiple renditions of haystacks, poplars, Houses of Parliament, London, Rouen Cathedral (1892-93) and his most famous subject, water lilies. Monet's seemingly obsessive series of water lily paintings, most notably The Watering Pond with the Japanese Bridge (1899), was inspired by the garden at his house at Giverny. His repetition of the subject culminated into a significant commission for the Orangerie des Tuileries museum in Paris.
Color is my day-long obsession, joy and torment. " - Claude Monet
Monet's productivity never waned; he painted continuously throughout his lifetime despite being diagnosed with cataracts in his seventies. His output is almost superhuman; during his life he produced somewhere in the region of 2,000 paintings. Today, with countless reproductions available, Monet's works have become so familiar that it is hard to fully comprehend their initial impact.