Monet in Tokyo: Works of Impressionist master on exhibit in ‘Series’
Stars and Stripes November 23, 2023
Until recently, my only exposure to the brilliant work of Claude Monet came through the pages of a college textbook and a bit of dialogue between George Clooney and Julia Roberts in that classic of art critique, “Ocean’s 11.”
“I always confuse Monet and Manet,” Clooney, as Danny Ocean, says to Roberts, who plays his art curator ex-wife, Tess. “Now, which one married his mistress?”
There’s no confusing the popularity around the exhibit of select pieces of Monet’s work, “Claude Monet: Journey to Series Paintings,” at the Ueno Royal Museum in Ueno Park, Tokyo.
Crowds queued on a Saturday in early November in a line that doubled back on itself at least twice — and that was just to get into the gift shop.
The ticket line was not nearly as lengthy; smart art connoisseurs will purchase their tickets online.
Monet is remembered as an exemplary Impressionist, though his work crossed several genres over his lifetime, examples of which are included in the exhibit that runs until Jan. 28 in Tokyo.
The 75 paintings on display are assembled from more than 40 museums and represent a rare opportunity to see such a wide representation of his work.
From foggy British streets to sunny fields in France, Monet worked magic in his art. I marveled at his ability to render, in his landscapes, distinct impressions of individuals in just a few brushstrokes. He had a particular talent for creating atmosphere – rendering fog, rain, mist and failing light masterfully.
As the title reveals, the show emphasizes Monet’s series paintings, a collection of multiple paintings that interpret and re-interpret one subject, the Waterloo Bridge in London being one example. The bridge is wrapped in fog, or daylight or the fading light of dusk in succeeding versions. Monet worked, reworked and repeated these subjects – the bridge, grain stacks, coastlines – over and over, capturing moods, lighting, passing storms.
Starting in the early 1880s, water lilies in a garden pond he created at his home in Giverny, France, provided the obsessive Monet with a final series of paintings and they, too, are represented at the Ueno Royal exhibit.
The subjects range from a small group of clearly, colorfully defined plants, “Nympheas,” to a broad, colorful, reflective pond fringed with them. Exhibitgoers gaggled in front of the paintings to drink in the most recognizable of Monet’s work.
The Ueno Royal exhibit marks the 150th anniversary of the first exhibition of Impressionism in Paris. Don’t wait to catch this historic master’s impressive range of work.
And his mistress, the former Alice Hoschedé? They did marry, after their respective spouses had died, though they had lived together. Monet survived to age 86 and died in December 1926.
On the QT
Directions: The Ueno Royal Museum is a short walk from Ueno Station’s park exit in Tokyo.
Times: Open daily, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.; open until 7 p.m. Fridays, Saturdays and holidays and until 6 p.m. on Sundays starting Dec. 24.
Costs: General admission 2,800 yen (about $18.60) Monday to Friday; 1,600 yen university, vocational and high school students; 1,000 for elementary and junior high students; 3,000 yen general admission; 1,800 university, vocational and high school students; 1,200 yen junior high and elementary students. Preschoolers admitted free.
Food: You’ll find numerous cafes and restaurants in Ueno Park and surrounding neighborhoods.
Information: Online: www.monet2023.jp