A few weeks ago when I was in Vancouver for a wedding I made Dave go to the Vancouver Art Gallery to see Claude Monet's Secret Garden exhibition. The Vancouver exhibition is the only presentation of this exhibit within North America and I simply could not resist checking it out. Although we only had a short amount of time to visit, we managed to take it all in. The exhibition comprised of 38 paintings spanning the artist's long career. It was a look into the diversity of his subjects of art, from the portrayal of modern life in his early figure studies to his inventive treatment of light seen in his city scenes. These works capture his dedicated approach to capture the fleeting colours from varied light. The exhibition ended with a major series of paintings Monet did in his famous gardens in the town of Giverny, where he lived from 1883 to the end of his life. The series shows how important the constant exploration of plants and water was to the artists, even as he began to go blind at the end of his artistic career and his life. His imagery of weeping willows, waterlilies and the Japanese bridge in his garden are among the most iconic of Western painting today.
"These landscapes of water and reflections have become quite an obsession. "It's quite beyond my powers at my age, and yet I I want to succeed in expressing what I feel." - Claude Monet, 1908
The above image of London was my favourite of the exhibition and varied dramatically from the other paintings throughout this exhibition. London was Monet's favourite European city and this image of the Houses of Parliament is one example of his dedication to the varying light in a cityscape. Sometimes Monet would have numerous paintings he was working on at once and would go back and forth as the light changed to capture the light at that exact moment.
The above image was the final of the exhibition and Monet finished painting it the year of his death. It is bigger and more colourful than others in the gallery, and equally beautiful. The garden remained Monet's muse until his death, a testament to the power of nature and art.
If you do one thing this summer in Vancouver make it this exhibition. The crowds were large and the gallery was filled up but it was worth every moment. Be sure to book your tickets online to avoid the winding ticket lines. The exhibition runs to October 1st 2017.