I’ve seen a couple of exhibitions this month – very different, but both worth a look.
The first is the current London blockbuster, Painting the Modern Garden: Monet to Matisse at the Royal Academy.
The star attraction is the final gallery where the three canvases of the Agapanthus Triptych have been reunited for the first time in Europe. Stupendous and exquisite, but I preferred the previous gallery, with a beautiful hanging of late works by Monet of the Giverny garden. Each of the paintings has plenty of room to breathe and they look the better for that. Sit, absorb and enjoy.
Although star names are represented in the exhibition (Renoir; Cezanne; Pissarro; Van Gogh; Kandinsky; Matisse; Bonnard; Vuillard; Klee and more besides), I was struck by the dominance of Monet’s works. Not in terms of number; there isn’t such a preponderance of his work until the last two galleries. Rather, in terms of impact.
I think I might have been guilty of dismissing Monet as a predictable painter and discounting his skill as a result. Seeing the strength of his work in the early rooms of this exhibition has made me re-appraise him.
And now for something completely different: A Restoration, the video work by Elizabeth Price which opened at the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford on 18 March. I don’t like video works, with the exception of anything by Elizabeth Price and this one lives up to her extraordinarily high standards.
She’s drawn on works in the Ashmolean and the Pitt-Rivers Museum and commentary by curators organising the records of Arthur Evans’s excavation of Knossos. The curators’ work has been reconstructed, figuratively, in the Ashmolean’s computer server and appears in the video. Various objects from the museum are introduced, including a fabulous sequence with antique glass goblets. The video runs for about twenty minutes and it’s definitely a to-do if you’re in the area. (It’s also free!)