Synthesis of art and nature

By | Art & Design
Claude Monet, Lady in the Garden, 1867 Oil on canvas, 80 x 99 cm The State Hermitage Museum, St. Petersburg Photo © The State Hermitage Museum. Photography: Vladimir Terebenin

Using the work of Monet as a starting point, this exhibition, advertised as being landmark, aims to examine the role gardens played in the evolution of art from the early 1860s through to the 1920s.

Tracing the development of the modern garden in its many forms and glories, it represents a period of great social change and innovation in the arts. The displayed paintings are by some of the most important Impressionist, Post-Impressionist and Avant-Garde artists of the early twentieth century.The Royal Academy of Arts, which co-organised the exhibition along with the Cleveland Museum of Art, underlines its popularity and recommends to the Friends of the RA to reserve free tickets in advance to guarantee entry at their preferred time.

Monet, named by the organisers as one of the most important painter of gardens in the history of art, once said he owed his painting “to flowers”.

Auguste Renoir, Monet Painting in His Garden at Argenteuil, 1873  Oil on canvas, 46.7 x 59.7 cm  Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art, Hartford, CT. Bequest of Anne Parrish Titzell,  1957.614  Photo © Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art, Hartford, CT

Auguste Renoir, Monet Painting in His Garden at Argenteuil, 1873 Credit@TheRoyalAcademyofArt and NOLDEFoundation

According to the curators, the garden provided him with the freedom to break new ground and explore the ever-changing world around him. Highlights of the exhibition include a selection of works by Monet, including the Agapanthus Triptych, reunited specifically for this case, Renoir’s Monet Painting in His Garden at Argenteuil and Kandinsky’s Murnau The Garden II. The main inspiration of Monet was the gardens; the artist was a dedicated horticulturist whose homes were encompassed with lush meadows, fragrant orchards and exotic plants.

In 1893 Monet decided to take advantage of his new found wealth and to sponsor an ambitious landscaping project at his property in Giverny. Including a series of lily ponds and an ornate Japanese-style bridge, this new garden aimed to occupy his paintings for the next 20 years and while serving as an inspiration, it required a team of seven staff to maintain.

With a quarter of the space filled with Monet’s work, this exhibition at the Royal Academy makes him the most important painter of gardens in the Modern Period. Included are also some of his water lily works and his horticultural books and journals and receipts as documents of his plant purchases.

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Painting the Modern Garden: Monet to Matisse. Credit@TheRoyalAcademyofArt and NOLDEFoundation

Monet was far from alone in drawing inspiration of the horticultural world, which is why the exhibition also features masterpieces by Renoir, Cezanne, Pissarro, Manet, Sargent, Kandinsky, van Gogh, Matisse, Klimt and Klee. Their works are supposed to represent the multiplicity of approaches to the genre.For some the garden served as a visual utopia and for others they were a way of experimenting with abstract colour theory and decorative design.

There is also a film named after the exhibition, which is planed to be in the cinemas in UK from 12th April 2016 and internationally from 24th May 2016. It aims to discover how different contemporaries of Monet built and cultivated modern gardens to explore expressive motifs, abstract colour, decorative design and utopian ideas.

With the joined efforts of passionate curators, artists and garden enthusiasts, this collection of Impressionists, Post-Impressionists, and avant-garde artists of the early twentieth century shows the development of the modern garden in popular culture and traces the spectator’s fascination with gardens today. As spaces for expressing colour, light and atmosphere, the gardens has captured the imagination of some of the world’s greatest artists. Quoting Monet, ‘Apart from painting and gardening, I’m far from good at anything’. The exhibition and the film might be ideal for lovers of art and or lovers of gardens.

Entry details

£15 with National Art Pass (£16 standard)

Mon – Thu, Fri 10am – 10pm, Sat – Sun, 10am – 6pm

Closed 23 Jun, 24 – 26 Dec

Book tickets online

Royal Academy of Arts Burlington House, Piccadilly London W1J 0BD.

020 7300 8000

How is nature idealised and depicted in art?


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