A couple of weeks ago, I was in San Diego for a book event and stopped by the San Diego Museum of Art (no better way to beat a SoCal heatwave than to spend an afternoon in the museums around Balboa Park).
I’m me, so of course, the European collection pulled me through the door — Ingres and Rubens and and Franz Hals and of course the El Grecos.
But what kept me in the museum — circling back around for yet another stop — was a special exhibit on the second floor:
The exhibit actually showcases one of Monet’s waterlily paintings, his 1904 Le Bassin de Nympheas….
The painting is, indeed, lovely and worth a visit.
But it was the space — the intimate room, the green wall color, the other paintings from the museum’s permanent collection chosen to high light the piece — that truly made this visit memorable. I felt — for a moment — that I, too, had the chance to wade through one of Claude’s lily ponds. I felt — for a moment — connected Claude.
The exhibit’s webpage provides the following quote:
“I want the unobtainable. Other artists paint a bridge, a house, a boat, and that’s the end. They are finished. I want to paint the air which surrounds the bridge, the house, the boat, the beauty of the air in which these objects are located, and that is nothing short of impossible.” – Claude Monet
That was the thing about this exhibit. It let me experience the AIR around the paintings — the air around Claude, the air of his gardens in France, the humid wet air of the ponds — all inside a museum in sunny San Diego.
I don’t want to say more because, well, I simply think the exhibit is worth experiencing on your own. I hope it, too, moves you to reflect on the EMOTIONAL power of art.