Monet

Samain and the Fallow Moon

Kate and I went to see the Monet exhibit at the Denver Museum of Art. First outing for Kate in quite a while. Lesley, a fellow mussarite, architect and art historian, led the tour as a DMA docent.

Christoph Heinrich, director of the DMA, wrote his Ph.D. dissertation on Monet and used his scholarly contacts as well as his museum world contacts to organize this show with a fellow Monet scholar from Potsdam, Germany. It has 120 paintings by Monet that show the development of his unique, impressionist style over a period of years.

Leslie had a knowledgeable presentation, for which she had many notecards. The exhibit draws big crowds and the museum supplied ear pieces and a receiver. Leslie stood back and spoke to us through her headset while we looked at the paintings. Could have used this technology in several exhibits at the MIA.

The DMA has a different docent style than the MIA. The docent explains, gives facts and interpretations. The way it used to be everywhere, I believe. The MIA requires the docent to engage tour participants with questions about each work, questions that help them draw their own conclusions, that force them to look and learn for themselves. There’s a place for both styles, imo.

There were some beautiful pieces, some ordinary works that showed Monet working out what he wanted to paint, many showing early experimentation with putting colors next to each other and letting the eye merge them into the color Monet saw as he painted. There were no real show stoppers in the exhibit however. I imagine the cost of getting several haystacks, several Rouen cathedrals (there were none), and the large water-lilly works like hang at the Chicago Art Institute was too much.

While a docent at the MIA, I became friends with the registrar, a position little know outside the museum world. The registrar crew handles the art works, moving them, hanging them, indexing them with the museums cataloging protocols. From him I learned about the intricacies of putting an exhibit together.

Most museums require that works over a certain value, I believe it was two-hundred and fifty thousand at the MIA, are never out of sight of one of their employees. An employee travels on the plane with them, observing them be loaded and removed.

I remember he told me (can’t recall his name) a story about a painting being flown to Australia for an exhibition there. He agreed to go with the painting, but due to his workload, he flew there with it, watched it get unloaded and shipped to the museum, then turned around and got back on a plane to Minneapolis. A long, long time in the air.

Given Monet’s prices at auction I would guess most, if not all, of his many paintings exceed the value limit of the MIA. That would be a lot of insurance, shipping, and travel costs.

Found myself fascinated with his brushwork, color choices. I’ve not spent much in museums or galleries since I started painting. Made me want to start going again to inform my own work.

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