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Monet in Cincinnati

Post #1519 • February 16, 2012, 9:57 AM • 6 Comments

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Alan Pocaro, friend of the blog, covers Monet in Giverny: Landscapes of Reflection for the Cincy CityBeat.

Given the industry’s penchant for churning out “radical” artists with the speed and insignificance of a Kardashian marriage, it may be hard to believe that these quintessentially “nice” paintings offer a truly revolutionary way of depicting the world. The dazzling color combinations that so effectively evoke fleeting sensations of light and atmosphere are in fact a frontal assault on the ossified conventions of 19th century French painting.

Read the whole essay.



Lou Gagnon

February 16, 2012, 8:02 PM

Yes. Thank you both for sharing and acknowledging this.


Walter Darby Bannard

February 16, 2012, 11:07 PM

The lily pad shown here is a killer picture, marred only by some smudginess in the dark green of the lower right—but this is a photo after all.

Age has some advantages. One of them is seeing how attitudes drift and change. The certainties of 50 years ago are often laughable today. You could buy a pretty good Monet in 1960 for less than $10,000 (around $75,000 now) because Monet fell way out of favor in the early 1900s, as did Matisse somewhat later. They were "pretty" and "decorative" in the face of the "tough" modes of Cubism and Expressionism. And "expert opinion" had no doubt about it.

I would take some oblique issue with Pocaro about the implication that Monet should be justified on the same terms as he was once rejected. These pictures really are not and do not need to be "revolutionary". They are just very good, and they always appealed to those with an eye. It is the rest of the art business that goes with the wind.


A Reader

February 17, 2012, 12:51 PM

Walter Darby Bannard may be interested to know that the curator of the Cincinnati Monet exhibition spent not a little time in graduate school studying nineteenth- and twentieth-century painting with Kermit Champa.


Walter Darby Bannard

February 17, 2012, 1:37 PM

Thanks. I'm not surprised. Kermit was one of the best, as a teacher, as a person, as a friend. I miss him, and so does the art world, whether it knows it or not.


Alan Pocaro

February 17, 2012, 3:59 PM

Darby, I don't think I'm justifying his work in terms of its revolutionary approach. CityBeat is a weekly publication that's aimed at a general audience. I was just trying to alert someone who may not have the kind of art background we do to the significance of his accomplishment, a kind of "there's more to it than meets the eye" type of statement. I agree that their greatness as paintings needs no justification, but they were and are revolutionary in terms of 19th century styles nonetheless.


Walter Darby Bannard

February 17, 2012, 11:31 PM

I understand completely, Alan. That's why I used the qualifier "oblique". I meant to say that I was not taking direct issue with you but merely positing an alternate view. I guess I did not make that clear enough.

That said, I am nevertheless uncomfortable with "revolutionary". The evolution of Cubism out of Cezanne, which established a new foundation for painting, could be said to be revolutionary, and its spread was immediate and esthetically violent. Late Monet spread slowly, like lava, and is still sinking in.

In any event, it's an interesting comparison.



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