The Cleveland Museum of Art is the last stop for the “Monet in Normandy” traveling exhibition. What a sumptuous exhibit it is. Organized in chronological order, the presentation features similarly themed works in each space. Written notes for each painting and the audio recording for some works complement one another and gave this viewer insight in the growth of Claude Monet’s style from carricatures and realism to a leading innovator of Impressionism. As one moves through the exhibit, we gain insight into his personal life while discovering the importance of place in his landscapes. Looking at the actual painting is a very different experience than looking at a picture of the painting. To appreciate Monet, one needs to examine the texture and pattern of the brush strokes he uses in each painting. His creative use of a comma, for example, can punctuate a scene. Likewise, his recording of light at different times of the day captures the wonder of place. Nocturnal light also plays an important part in A Seascape, Shipping by Moonlight. The shifting shimmer of moonlight dances on the waves. His paintings at Étretat depict novel views of these unusual cliffs and arches. Although we only see a couple of his grainstack pictures, they are enough to get a sense of how he is capturing changes in light, atmosphere, weather conditions, and point of view. The size of the stack in Grainstack in the Sunlight extends beyond the canvas. In another of his later themes, View of Rouen, we see an ephemeral cathedral tower reaching, blending with the sky. From his paintings of waterlilies and the Japanese bridge, we gain a sense of his contemplative water garden in Giverny. In Water Lilies the flowers approach their actual size as Monet captures where light, air, water, and plant life meet. Seeing this exhibit was truly inspiring.

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