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Monet, Claude - National Gallery of Canada

Claude Monet: A Bridge of Modernity
Monet, one of the most renowned and beloved French Impressionist painters, is celebrated for his seemingly fleeting impressions of the natural world. While he has been hailed as the plein-air painter par excellence, his art is not, however, as spontaneous as it may first appear.
Monet: A Bridge to Modernity is the first monographic exhibition in Canada (29.10.2015 - 15.02.2016) devoted to the artist in almost two decades. Here, the National Gallery of Canada brings together twelve seminal works from collections around the world that highlight Monet’s methodical approach through his innovative experiments with the motif of the bridge. He did not simply paint what he saw; rather, he was an astute and deliberate artist who used this motif as a laboratory for working out his painterly technique and aesthetic ideas.
Monet painted these works during his stay in Argenteuil, a bustling suburb of Paris where he settled in late 1871 after his self-imposed exile in London and Holland during the Franco-Prussian War (1870–71). Upon his arrival in the small town 

>> Claude Monet 1840 Paris † 1926 Giverny

became fascinated with the local highway and railway bridges, repeatedly returning to this subject. In his important early work Le pont de bois (1872), currently on long-term loan to the Gallery, he depicts the highway bridge under repair following the destruction wrought by the war – a tribute to France’s return to order. With a cropped view and flattened perspective reminiscent of Japanese woodblock prints, Monet frames the river basin with the wooden structure of the bridge and the scaffolding, effectively creating a picture within a picture frame. This daring composition, in which the artist demonstrates a conscious interest in “picture-making,” became the point of departure for similar explorations of the bridge theme, each with a different viewpoint, technique, colour and brushwork. What resulted were paintings of startling modernity that cemented Monet’s status as one of the leaders of the nineteenth-century French avant-garde.
This focus exhibition casts new light on Le pont de bois as it delves into the historic, sociological and artistic context of the early years of Impressionism in the early 1870s. The twelve paintings on view are accompanied by a collection of nineteenth-century photographs, illustrations, guide books, Japanese prints and postcards. A truly immersive experience, Monet: A Bridge to Modernity provides a fresh view of some of the Impressionist’s most treasured works from a pivotal period in his career. (Text: National Gallery of Canada)