Painting the Modern Garden, Petit Plaisir #377
Wednesday March 20, 2024

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When art exhibits open in museums around the world, they run for a short period of time as they are being given permission to display the requested work from both other museums and private owners from around the globe, so if you happen to be in the vicinity or are able to travel to see it, what a treat it is to see a collection of works that before and after the exhibit will be scattered around the world back to their permanent homes.

However, most of us will not be so fortunate to see such exhibits which is why I am grateful for the documentary series Exhibitions on Screen, a documentary series that explores the history behind works of art, and takes viewers inside the exhibits while they are being shown to the public, while also including interviews with the curators with special focus on many of the pieces within each exhibit, revealing the background that led to its creation and the stories that followed it.

Having viewed many of Exhibitions on Screen documentaries over the years since 2016, and grateful to a local boutique theater near Bend who brings these films to the public, it is a pleasure to view these film on the big screen and with an audience eager to learn more about the artists and movements brought forth in each exhibit.

Painting the Modern Garden: Monet to Matisse focuses on the 2016 exhibit opened to the public in London at the Royal Academy of Arts, and while this film premiered shortly after the in-person exhibit was released again this February, and what a treat of a film.

While taking us into the gardens that inspired many Impressionist painters most pointedly Claude Monet, the film is as much a treat for those who love art, specially the Impressionist movement as it is for gardeners.

The film takes us into Giverny frequently, Monet’s garden in Normandy that inspired so much of his painting in the latter half of his career, interviews the current head gardener, as well as including the paintings and the gardens that inspired other painters such as Van Gogh, Bonnard, Pissarro, Renoir and Matisse.

The exhibit “examines the role of gardens in the paintings of Claude Monet and his contemporaries. Arguably the most important painter of gardens in the history of art, Monet was also an avid horticulturist who cultivated gardens wherever he lived. As early as the 1860s, a symbiotic relationship developed between his activities as a horticulturist and his paintings of gardens, a relationship that can be traced from his early years in Sainte-Adresse to his final months at Giverny. ‘I perhaps owe it to flowers,’ he wrote, ‘that I became a painter.’”

“The exhibition will lead [viewers] through the evolution of the garden theme, from Impressionist visions of light and atmosphere to retreats for reverie and dreams, sites for bold experimentation, sanctuaries of refuge and healing, and, ultimately, signifiers of a world restored to order—a paradise regained. Framing these paintings in the context of broad artistic movements, as well as social and political events, will offer unprecedented paths for understanding the garden as a multifaceted, universal theme in modern art.”

Slipping away vicariously to Europe, primarily to France, while watching the film provided much inspiration creatively, not only generally but gardening pursuits as well.

If you have the opportunity to watch the film in the theater, I encourage you to do so, but if not, streaming it will be just as lovely. Have a look at the trailer below.

~Explore here how you can stream the film.

Episode #331

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