Monet's Pond

Claude Monet   Water-Lily Pond   1926

“For the pond [in Monet’s garden] was as artificial as painting itself. It was flat, as a painting is. What showed on its surface, the clouds and lilypads and cat's-paws of wind, the dark patches of reflected foliage, the abysses of dark blue and the opaline shimmer of light from the sky, were all compressed together in a shallow space, a skin, like the space of painting. The willows touched it like brushes. No foreground, no background; instead, a web of connections. Monet's vision of energy manifesting itself in a continuous field of nuances would be of great importance to abstract painting thirty years after his death. A work like Jackson Pollock's Lavender Mist, 1950, with its palpitation of paint-skeins knitted across the whole canvas, is an American prolongation of the Symbolist line that runs through Monet's garden. But even if they had had no echoes in future painting, some of the Waterlilies would still be among the supreme moments of vision in Western art. The pond was a slice of infinity. To seize the indefinite; to fix what is unstable; to give form and location to sights so evanescent and complex that they could hardly be named -- these were basic ambitions of modernism, and they went against the smug view of determined reality that materialism and positivism give us."
                                                     Robert Hughes   from The Shock of The New

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