How Claude Monet Inspired Abstract Artists

How Claude Monet Inspired Abstract Artists
French Impressionist artist Claude Monet is perhaps best known for his series of 250 'Water Lilies' painted at his Giverny home and atelier. I'll discuss the 'impression' Monet made on abstract art.

In 1890 Claude Monet called Giverny home where a road separated his self-planted flower garden 'Clos Normand' and a Japanese inspired water garden and bridge. The landscape and gardens were altered to better suit his work capturing light during various times of the day and weather conditions.

In 1918, Monet painted a series of twelve (12) paintings of water lilies, intended to be laid side-by-side in an oval room. After WWI Musee de l'Orangerie specially built two (2) oval rooms to house this massive collection and created a panoramic view.

Unfortunately, a fire broke out in 1958 at MoMA when two (2) "Water Lilies" were destroyed. Happily, for many museum goers, in 1959 the museum acquired a massive water lilies triptych (3 panels).

After his WWII army service, American artist Ellsworth Kelly moved to Paris in 1949. He admired Monet's "Water Lilies" AKA "Nympheas" and in August 1952 Kelly was allowed admittance to the master artist's studio where he saw the late 19th c paintings - becoming more abstract.

Kelly said, "I had never seen painting like this. [They were] overall compositions of thickly applied oil paint representing water with lilies, with no skyline. I felt that these works were beautiful, impersonal statements."

Kelly was aware that Monet returned to Paris in 1948 at the age of 25, but said, "My knowledge of Monet's work ended with 'Haystacks' and I knew nothing of his work after 1900."

Kelly's 'deconstruction' about form and color is seen as a bridge between abstract and minimalist art.

Kelly was inspired by Monet's use of bold colors. Almost ten (10) years later, Kelly would paint his version of water lilies - "Claude Monet, The Water-lily Pond" (1918-19). It can be viewed at the Musee Marmottan Monet, Paris.

Joan Mitchell, a friend of Ellsworth Kelly, visited Giverny in the late 1940s and moved to France in 1955. She also used strong colors and abstraction.

Sadly, after Monet's death in 1926, the grounds deteriorated. Today, the Fondation Claude Monet runs and preserves the house and gardens of Claude Monet in Giverny, France.

You can own he book "Monet Water Lilies: The Complete Series," available here from

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