Meditation on Monet

Art museums have felt like home ever since I was a child. When I was little, my parents would take my sister and I along with them to experience grand sweeping galleries with seemingly endless rows of golden, gilded frames. Galleries were something almost magical for me: carnivorous plain spaces bathed in natural light, whilst pieces of art hung on the blank canvas that was the museum.

Looking back, growing up going to galleries made me really appreciate art as a vital part of humanity, even if sometimes I didn’t really understand what the artist was trying to convey. For example, I remember being about nine years old and looking at a piece by Wassily Kandinsky. As a child, I really loved all of the bright colors dancing across the canvas, but I didn’t really understand what the composition meant. I grew a bit frustrated, but then I remembered the initial feeling that the painting had given me: a feeling of wonder and giddiness. Maybe I didn’t understand what the painter was contemplating as he made the piece, but it made me feel something. Ever since that moment, I’ve been fascinated by the power that art has to connect two individuals, who are unlike one another, by way of their shared humanity.

Light filtered through the glass windows that lined a wall of the Kimbell Art Museum in Fort Worth, as I wandered aimlessly from painting to painting in the new Monet exhibition, which details his early work. I listened to Bombay Bicycle Club’s “How Can You Swallow So Much Sleep” (a must listen-to in art museums) about 98 times as my shoes click-clacked on the light wooden floors. Each gilded frame that I came across detailed an idyllic and tranquil scene. I saw meadows, boats, trees, and my personal favorite: a woman looking out onto the River Seine. However, something completely shocked me about the exhibition: the compositions were free from Monet’s signature Impressionistic flair. Instead, the bucolic scenes were almost realistic. The lack of his signature aesthetic made me realize that the changes in Monet’s art style detail a certain shift in how he perceived the world; his later paintings analyze the effect of light upon different subjects and utilize a more vibrant color palette. As Monet became part of the Impressionist movement, he caused a paradigm shift in the art world and in his own way of perceiving the world. The shift in Monet’s way of thought is directly mirrored in his work and caused me to realize the different perceptions of the world that can be conveyed through art. This change in Monet’s art style signifies a break with his past and in turn, a rebirth of a new ideology—one we are lucky to have on display so close to SMU, and one that isn’t to be missed.

This article was written by Andrea Del Angel. Click here to see more of Andrea’s work.