The View From 32


MAY 23, 2007  

Sky & lake after sunset, from W. 32 St.

OK, it's not really Normandy

...and I'm not Monet, but still the colors in the sky tonight reminded me of some of Monet's luminous paintings we just went to see at the Cleveland Museum of Art. The photo is, by the way, the actual view from 32. I walked two blocks north from my house to the end of 32nd St., crossed Detroit Ave., and took the picture. No romantic French haystacks here, just the Cargill salt mine that extends out more than three miles under Lake Erie (the pinkish band visible just above the buildings).

At the Art Museum, the Monet in Normandy exhibit was quite lovely. I'm not a huge fan of Monet's, and some of the 50 or so paintings didn't seem up to the same level as others, but still... the guy could paint. Some paintings are nearly abstract, like Grainstack, Sun in the Mist.  On the other hand, Wheat Field reminds me of Thomas Hart Benton, while Garden at Sainte-Adresse has an Edward Hopper look.

What most impressed me was the range of subject matter and stylistic treatment Monet was capable of. Many artists for better or worse develop a signature style and spend years creating work that explores the same visual approach and/or subject matter. Monet, on the other hand, certainly was interested in water and landscapes, but one of his most popular paintings, judging by the crowds that gathered in front of it, was the Cathedral at Rouen.

But here's the problem with writing about the show: the images on the web, and similarly, printed versions of the paintings, don't even come close to capturing what they are really like. When you stand in front of these paintings they seem to glow with light. Some are writhing masses of brushstrokes while others are virtually flat washes of color. None of this comes across in reproductions.

So, if you're in Cleveland in the next few days, get yourself over to the show. The Museum will be open to midnight on Friday May 25 and Saturday May 26 to accomodate the expected crowds of procrastinators, so you might be able to join them. My advice: go at ten or eleven pm when there will be fewer people. Tonight, a Wednesday when the galleries are open until 9 pm, things were busy but not totally congested. I hate to think what it will be like at 1 pm on Saturday or Sunday.