Looking at the sky, water and flowers

Monet in his first studio at Giverny

"Nymphéas" (1907)

"Nymphéas" (1908)

"Les Bassins aux nymphéas" (1917-1919)

"The Water Lily Pond" (1918)

"I have spent nearly eight lazy days looking at the sky, water, and flowers."
Claude Monet, in a letter dated May 14, 1908

Over a hundred years to the day after these words were written in Giverny, I stood in the Larry Gagosian Gallery in Chelsea looking at some of the beautifully complex paintings that Monet produced in the last two decades of his life from his singular way of looking at the sky, water and flowers in his monumental garden. The show reunites for the first time in 101 years the 7 paintings that were part of Monet's 1909 show at the Galerie Durand-Ruel in Paris, one of the last 3 three shows that he staged before his death at 86 in 1926. In the last decades of his life, Monet devoted himself to the making his elaborate garden, which became his muse and model for his paintings. From the collection of 27 paintings gathered in the show, the garden appears in various moods and colors, at times all shimmering and blue, and at other times dark and gnarly, the paint thickened in a turbulence of motion and color. These paintings reinforced Monet's thrust toward abstraction and point at his influence on such Abstractionist as Joan Mitchell and Jackson Pollock. It's one of the most beautiful shows I have seen in a long time. I left the gallery yearning for my own small patch of nature so I can spend my time looking at the sky, water and flowers for the rest of my days.

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