NEW YORK, NY.- The Museum of Modern Art
presents Monets Water Lilies from September 13, 2009, to April 12, 2010, an installation that features the full group of late paintings by Claude Monet (1840-1926) in the collection for the first time since the Museum's reopening in 2004. The four MoMA paintings are a mural-sized triptych (Water Lilies, 191426); a single panel painting of the water lilies in the Japanese-style pond that Monet cultivated on his property in Giverny, France (Water Lilies, 191426); The Japanese Footbridge (c. 192022); and Agapanthus (191426), the majestic plants in the ponds vicinity. These works are complemented by two loans of closely related paintingsWater Lilies (191426), from the collection of The Metropolitan Museum of Art, and Water-Lilies, Reflections of Weeping Willows (c. 1918), from a private collection on extended loan to The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Monets Water Lilies is organized by Ann Temkin, The Marie-Josée and Henry Kravis Chief Curator of Painting and Sculpture, The Museum of Modern Art.
Monet devoted the last 25 years of his life to the portrayal of the pond and its surroundings in Giverny. By the 1910s, his work centered on the creation of large-scale panels of the water lilies, a group of which he would donate to the French state for permanent installation in the Orangerie in Paris. After Monet's death, many of these last works remained in his studio, left under the care of the artist's son. But for two decades art historians and collectors reserved their interest for his earlier Impressionist work. The work of the 1910s and 1920s was regarded as far too unstructured, and much of the work left in the studio was considered unfinished.
After the end of World War II, a sudden turnabout occurred, and keen attention was focused on Monet's last paintings. In a quintessential case of contemporary art transforming attitudes toward earlier art history, the large scale and gestural freedom of Abstract Expressionism illuminated the late Monet as a predecessor of great relevance. In 1955 MoMA became the first public collection in the United States to acquire one of Monet's large-scale Water Lilies compositions. Since then, the history of their reception has been intertwined with the history of the Museum, both because of the water lilies' importance for scores of contemporary artists, and for the beloved position they hold for the general audience.