cover image Claude Monet

Claude Monet

Rizzoli, Virginia Spate. Rizzoli International Publications, $75 (348pp) ISBN 978-0-8478-1571-5

Serving as both an indispensable critical analysis of Monet's paintings and a stunning album, this ravishingly illustrated study presents Monet (1840-1926) as an artist who tried to fashion a personal wholeness within a fragmented, rapidly changing society. Spate, an Australian art historian, demonstrates how Monet's paintings enact the contradiction between natural time and the mechanical time of technological society. The recluse of Giverny created a beautiful garden, which he then recreated in paintings of sensual plenitude that offered protection from an alienating public sphere. In his last works, the Water Lilies series, Monet, struggling against blindness, admitted disintegration and the ravages of time into his self-enclosed world. In portraying reality as a succession of moments of color, ``this most bourgeois of artists'' became an endless experimenter whose canvases point to a longed-for harmony between the viewer and an unspoiled nature. (Dec.)