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Rachel Cohen

Monet (9)

Monet on Election Day

Tuesday, November 3, 2020

At Giverny, during World War I, Monet could hear the gunshots from the front, which was fifty kilometers away. His eldest son died of illness in 1914, and his second son and his stepson were both in the army. Monet did not think especially well of himself for continuing to paint, but he did think it was what he could do. He wrote in a letter in December of 1914: Yesterday I resumed work… it’s the best way to avoid thinking in these sad times. All the same I [...] more

Looking Forward Monet

Sunday, October 4, 2020

Tomorrow, Monday, I’m going to virtually ‘walk’ with people through the last gallery of the beautiful Monet in Chicago show at the Art Institute of Chicago. I have some dozens of close pictures to show of the eight late water lily paintings in that wonderful room. It’s a free public program and quite a lot of people have registered and, in the odd way we live now, I’ll meet each of them in the ether between my screen and theirs. [...] more

Graduated

Thursday, June 11, 2020

Yesterday and today, in our extended family, as for many families, our children graduated. Our children and their cousins left behind nursery school, second grade, kindergarten, sixth grade, a year of daycare, and the fourth grade in a planned home school. Their teachers and families made a moving effort to mark these changes which this year do not seem as visible, as tangible, as usual. Thinking about graduation, and gradual movement, my mind went to Claude Monet, who was one of the first painters I loved, and whose paintings our children love to [...] more

Les Débâcles, first

Monday, February 23, 2015

débâcle: the violent flood that follows when the river ice melts in spring In the winter of 1879-1880 the weather was unusually stormy and cold.  All along the Seine there were record quantities of snow and ice.  That winter, Claude Monet was at Vétheuil, a village near Argenteuil and to the northwest of Paris.  Monet was living in straitened circumstances with his children; his beloved wife Camille had died earlier that year, in September.  The remaining Monets were sharing a household with Alice Hoschedé and her children.  The winter was so fierce that even at Christmas it was [...] more

Delacroix's Palette

Saturday, June 28, 2014

The final studio in which Delacroix worked is also, spatially, the last in a series of seclusions.  It’s a wonderful large square, lit by immense skylights, and surrounded by gardens that Delacroix filled with a profusion of flowers, their colors of his own careful choosing.  The studio building is behind, and separate from, the apartment in which Delacroix lived. This apartment is itself on a private courtyard holding quiet entrances for a few buildings.  The courtyard is off a small quiet square, really a slight geometric expansion of a narrow street, the Rue Furstenberg, an untrafficked byway not far [...] more

Turner before Monet

Sunday, December 29, 2013

In Cleveland for the holidays, M. and I walked through the galleries of the art museum, and stumbled upon Turner’s The Burning of the Houses of Lords and Commons, 16 October, 1834 . If I’d seen it before, I’d entirely forgotten.  A painting of great power and intricacy. Turner one of those rare colorists who seems, to me, to have control within the color – especially here of red that really burns at the heart of the painting and of the expanding cloud of yellow and white. The color has shape and density, symmetry and modulation.  It is [...] more

Monet at Work

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

I hadn’t appreciated what it meant to Monet to work in a series.  I knew the haystacks and the cathedrals and the water lilies showed different times of day – that you could see the morning in the yellow light along one edge of a bridge or doorframe and the evening in the lavender along the other – but I hadn’t really thought through how Monet would then actually have to work on them. I assumed, I think, that he began, say on a morning painting of haystacks, finished that one and then moved on to one of the [...] more

At Nadar's (but he was already gone)

Monday, November 11, 2013

Possibly it was somewhere in two decades of reading and rereading Susan Sontag’s On Photography that I absorbed a small but suggestive misimpression.  In the midst of a passage on the relationship between photography and painting, she devotes a long footnote to Impressionism.  This footnote begins, unexceptionably, “the large influence that photography exercised upon the Impressionists is a commonplace of art history.”[i] Rereading the rest of the footnote I see, as is often the case with Sontag, that I have been thinking about what it contains for a long time without even remembering that she [...] more

On Photography II

Saturday, October 5, 2013

[This is the second installment of visual notes on this Pissarro, documented by iphone.] Stretch of cultivated field down to earth: Shape of path as it curves back: Shape of hill crest, cypressed, below sky: Step back to look at whole again: Dark paint, just dashed on, group of trees: Really dark, low dark hole, yellow grass across lower right corner: Look again at dark paint just dashed on of upper tree: Once having looked at these two dark areas, upper tree, lower hole, the whole right side of the picture has beautiful [...] more