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Working Monet

A paragraph from my draft on the Monet show at Gagosian (writing is hard):

Take Cezanne for instance, whose insistence at maintaining a balance between technique and experience have famously left blank spots on canvas where the artist felt he couldn’t discern where one thing began and the other ended. Relentless in his pursuit of understanding optics and challenging the conventions of painting—classical techniques of foreshortening, perspective and scale for instance—Cezanne abandoned the literal tricks of the trade and focused on looking. The results were torqued still-lifes, flattened landscapes, and an entirely personal and intimate method of expression. Similarly, Monet in these later efforts, abandoned the traditions of painting and his decision to tip the focus of the works down into the pond—abandoning horizon entirely—is one that necessitated his devising new ways to render objects and produce spatial effects. The results, as evidenced in the Gagosian show, are abstract, disorienting, expressive, simple, complicated, meditative, and filled with innovation and wonder. Curator Paul Hayes Tucker and Monet make a case on these walls that the super-Impressionist has trumped van Gogh, Cezanne and Gauguin as the last word. In a moment when Monet had the means and reputation to glide prosperously into immortality, this exhibition reveals a man who ever-advancing the craft of painting and engaged in heavy competition with both his peers and his mortality.

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