Monet’s Places to Reopen at Museum Barberini in Potsdam

May 6, 2020

At a time when we are saturated with screens, constant flux of images, and artificial intelligence, historical painting still captivates the observers around the world, especially if it is produced by the Impressionists. Although many of them were misunderstood at their time, the dazzling landscapes depicting the reflections of moving water, summer breeze in the treetops, and an overall natural beauty showed the other side of modernity that expressed one's need for contemplation, solitude, and appreciation of nature.

The painter who championed this movement the most was Claude Monet, a skillful master who managed to materialize the ephemeral nature of atmospheric conditions on canvas. His grandiose oeuvre is still examined by scholars, it is very popular in auctions, and is often presented thematically in the museums around the world.

Such is the case with the exhibition called Monet: Places jointly organized by the Museum Barberini in Potsdam and the Denver Art Museum that tends to revisit outstanding sites that were curated and ultimately depicted by this iconic Modernist mage.

Claude Monet - Grainstack in the Sunlight
Claude Monet - Grainstack in the Sunlight, Snow Effect, 1891. Oil on canvas, 65 x 100 cm. Private collection

A Personal Geography

The exhibition underlines the impact various places had on Claude Monet’s stylistic development, including the urban environments such as Paris, London, and Venice, as well as the rural ones like the Seine villages of Argenteuil, Vétheuil and Giverny, and the coasts of Normandy and Brittany.

The curator at the Museum Barberini Daniel Zamani stated:

Monet’s career has been the subject of intense scholarly scrutiny, but our focus on the places that inspired him offers new insights into his artistic interests and methods. Our aim is to demonstrate just how significant specific topographies were at key junctures in Monet’s career and to look more deeply into how and why these places influenced his development as a painter.

Claude Monet - The Tuileries
Claude Monet - The Tuileries, 1876. Oil on canvas, 54 x 73 cm. Musée Marmottan Monet, Paris. Photo: Bridgeman Images, Berlin

The Installment

An astonishing selection of more than one hundred examples of plein air painting spreads across all three floors of the museum and is thematically arranged according to each toponym, including some of the exhibition highlights: depictions of Monet’s garden and pond in Giverny.

The works, primarily drawn from the collection of the founder and patron of the Museum Barberini Hasso Plattner and the Impressionist holdings of the Denver Art Museum, are followed by exemplary loans from other international museums and private collections.

Claude Monet - Waterloo Bridge
Claude Monet - Waterloo Bridge Sunlight Effect, 1903. Oil on canvas, 63,5 x 98,4 cm. Denver Art Museum

Monet at the Museum Barberini

For the past two months, the Museum Barberini was closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but it will reopen on 6 May 2020. Following the protective guidelines, visits will be limited to two hours, wearing masks and a reduction of general contact is compulsory while a sign-posted tour will help visitors to obey the 1.5-meter social distancing rule. The director of the Museum Barberini, Ortrud Westheider, expressed his excitement, but also the museum’s responsibility:

We are delighted to finally make the museum accessible again. We are conscious of the responsibility we have to our guests and staff. In these difficult times, during which museums all over the world were closed, the Museum Barberini has experienced extraordinary solidarity: Within a very short time, our numerous international lenders agreed to extend the exhibition Monet: Places, thus enabling us to devote time and space to Monet’s work.

The Monet: Places exhibition at the Museum Barberini in Potsdam, Germany is extended to 19 July 2020.

A richly illustrated catalog accompanies the exhibition, while the virtual tour is accessible on the museum’s web page.

Featured images: Monet: Places, Installation views. Photos by David von Becker, © Museum Barberini.

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