Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Thought for the Day

Once Monet had reached maturity, he displayed a fascination with roads and paths, like Pissaro and Cezanne, and indeed all the great Impressionists. Highways, whether rail or carriage or footpaths, are the one subject that the Impressionists were never very far from. Was it because roads for the first time in European history all became safe and used by everybody? Was it a new awareness of mobility? Monet's Gare St-Lazare takes on a new light when we notice all of these roads, even if we know it is a station where one takes the train from Paris to Giverney. And in his full maturity, and on into old age, Monet devoted himself to two subjects––his lily pond, a diversion of the river Epte across the road from his house at Giverney, and the haystacks in the field adjacent. Add to this the Epte itself, with its lines of poplars, and you have all of late Monet in an acre of French countryside, so dull and ordinary that no photographer would waste a frame of film on it, and so bland that today one passes it in an automobile with no awareness that here is the original of some of the most beautiful landscapes in all of art.

-Guy Davenport, Objects on a Table: Harmonious Disarray in Art and Literature (Counterpoint, 1998) p. 16-17.


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