Claude Monet: Water Lilies

The Museum of Modern Art, New York

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Ann Temkin and Nora Lawrence
The Museum of Modern Art, New York
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Illustrated in colour and black and white throughout
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Claude Monet (1840-1926) devoted the last 25 years of his career to paintings of the Japanese-style pond and gardens of his house in Giverny, France. Two of these luminous panels - 'Reflections of Clouds on the Water-Lily Pond', a mural-sized triptych, and 'Water Lilies', a single canvas - are among the most well-known and beloved works in the collection of The Museum of Modern Art. These late works were for many years less appreciated than Monet's classic Impressionist works, being considered unstructured, even unfinished, but with the emergence of Abstract Expressionism in the 1950s, Monet became an extraordinarily relevant predecessor. In 1955 MoMA became the first American museum to acquire one of Monet's large-scale water lily compositions. In 1958, when a fire destroyed this and another water lily painting, the public's widespread expression of loss led to the acquisition of the works currently in the collection. This lively volume recounts the history of Monet's water lilies at the Museum and, through interviews with contemporary artists, underscores the paintings' resonance with the art and artists of the last half-century.