In 1955, Alfred Barr brought one of Monet’s large panels of Water Lilies (W1992) into the collection of the Museum of Modern Art in New York, at a time when these great "decorations", still in the studio in Giverny, were beginning to attract the attention of collectors and museums.
Monet was presented at that time as "a bridge between the naturalism of early Impressionism and the highly developed school of Abstract Art" in New York, with his Water Lilies seen in the context of Pollock’s paintings, such as Autumn Rhythm (number 30), 1950. The reception of these later Monet works resonated with American Abstract Expression then coming into the museum collections. At the same time, the idea of "Abstract Impressionism" was forged.
The exhibition at the Musée de l’Orangerie focuses on this precise moment - when the great decorations of the master of Giverny were rediscovered and the New York School of Abstract Art was recognised - with a selection of some of Monet’s later works and around twenty major paintings by American artists such as Jackson Pollock, Mark Rothko, Barnett Newman, Clyfford Still, Helen Frankenthaler, Morris Louis, Philip Guston, Joan Mitchell, Mark Tobey, Sam Francis, Jean-Paul Riopelle and Ellsworth Kelly.
At the entrance to the Water Lilies, there is a tribute to Ellsworth Kelly, the American abstract artist who died in 2015 and whose work is still in dialogue with Monet’s. This display was designed by Eric de Chassey with the support of the American Friends of the Musée d’Orsay and the Musée de l’Orangerie.
Cécile Debray, chief curator, director of the Musée de l'Orangerie
Claude Monet (1840-1926), Weeping Willow, between 1920 and 1922
Oil on canvas. H. 1.1; W. 1 cm
Paris, musée d'Orsay. Philippe Meyer donation, 2000
© RMN-Grand Palais (musée d'Orsay) / Adrien Didierjean
The Water Lilies. American Abstract Art and the Last Monet, an exhibition at the Musée de l’Orangerie
By Cécile Debray, Curator of the exhibition, Director of the Musée de l’Orangerie
Wednesday 2 May, 7pm
Giverny upon Hudson
By Ann Hindry, art historian and art critic, Director of the Renault art collection
Wednesday 16 May, 7pm
By Anne Montfort, art historian, exhibition curator, Musée d’art moderne de la ville de Paris
Wednesday 23 May, 7pm
Monet in History
By Laurence Bertrand-Dorléac, art historian, professor at Sciences Po Paris
Wednesday 13 June, 7pm
The Scenographic Posterity of the Orangerie’s Water Lilies
By Félicie Faizand de Maupeou, art historian
Wednesday 20 June, 7pm
Musée d’Orsay auditorium
An international symposium devoted to the reception in the United States of Monet’s later works and more specifically of the Water Lilies installed in the Orangerie since 1927. This symposium is an opportunity to highlight the sweep of historic and aesthetic continuity that unites the 19th and 20th centuries and, consequently, the specific project that links the Musée de l’Orangerie and the Musée d’Orsay.