Friday, March 16, 2012

Must Monet Demand So Much Attention at the Cincinnati Art Museum?

Cincinnati Art Museum Entrance
      It seems like an Impressionist show pops up every other year or whenever a museum wants to increase its attendance or recognition.  It's a great premise and one that works, especially when Monet is somehow included.  There  

The Footbridge, Giverny
are currently three such shows in our area: Renoir to Chagall: Paris and the Allure of Color at the Speed Museum in Louisville (see our post from 2/12/2012), Monet to Matisse: Celebrating the 20th Anniversary of the Sirak Collection at the Columbus Museum of Art, and Monet in Giverny: Landscapes of Reflection at the Cincinnati Art Museum.  

Le Bassin des Nympheas
      Monet in Giverny: Landscapes of Reflection showcases
12 paintings, 4 of which are from Ohio.  The exhibit area is one large room with a smaller alcove explaining the significance of Monet's years at Giverny, his home and gardens.  The pieces are all significant from the familiar to the more obscure.  The overwhelming emotion is one of motion juxtaposed against serenity.  Most of the recent exhibits at CAM have been beautifully curated using well thought out backgrounds and lighting.  There seemed to be something missing with this offering from the overhead paper cutouts at the entrances that bordered on a homemade effort to the low lighting.  Fortunately, the works were able to transcend those downfalls.  

       Don't expect this to be a tranquil outing either.  There were four guards, only one of whom seemed approachable.  They constantly invaded private spaces to the point where one felt unwelcome.  We didn't spend much time with the priceless pieces.  I made a second visit on a weekday and it was pretty much the same experience except that time I was avoiding a large docent tour.  I understand that protecting such works of art can be both stressful and honorable, but there are ways to approach the duties that will allow the viewers to have a pleasurable experience.  Multiple entrances and exits should be eliminated.  If outerwear is thought to be a cover for potential weapons, then there should be a required coat check.  And lastly, if close proximity to the paintings is a threat then curate them in a manner that allows them to be viewed peacefully at an appropriate distance for security.  I would suggest visits right after the opening of the museum or near the end of the day.  Despite all of that, it's still a remarkable selection of Monet's later works and you should spend as much time with them as you comfortably can.

The exhibit is FREE admission (the only one of the three mentioned) and continues through May 13, 2012.

Oh boy—Neil and Eric talk about their visit to Giverny all the time.  I always try to look interested.

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