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Claude Monet at the Museum Barberini

The Hasso Plattner Collection - Museum Barberini - contains more than 100 works by Impressionist and post-Impressionist painters, including 34 paintings by Claude Monet.
With over one hundred paintings, the Museum Barberini presented from 22 February - 19 July 2020, the largest retrospective ever to be devoted to the Impressionist painter Claude Monet in a German museum.
The exhibition drew primarily on the Hasso Plattner Collection and the Impressionist holdings of the Denver Art Museum, augmented by numerous loans from museums and private collections in many different countries, including the Musée d’Orsay and the Musée Marmottan Monet in Paris, the National Gallery in London, the Museo Nacional Thyssen-Bornemisza in Madrid, the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., the Hammer Museum in Los Angeles, the National Museum of Western Art in Tokyo, and the National Gallery of Australia in Canberra.

Located in Potsdam’s historic center (Germany), the Museum Barberini is an art museum that was initiated by Hasso Plattner, the founder of the German software company SAP and a patron of the arts.
Since its opening in 2017, the Barberini has established itself as one of the most popular museums in Germany with international exhibitions and an extraordinary collection of Impressionist paintings.
In addition to its special exhibitions, the Museum Barberini permanently showcases the extensive collection of Impressionist and Post-Impressionist paintings of the museum’s founder, Hasso Plattner, including masterpieces by Claude Monet, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Berthe Morisot, Gustave Caillebotte, and Paul Signac.
Over one hundred works by twenty artists present the history of French Impressionism—from its beginnings in the nineteenth century to its further development through the Pointillists and Fauves in the early twentieth century. With thirty-four paintings by Claude Monet, there is no venue in Europe outside of Paris that shows more works by this artist.
This makes Potsdam one of the most important centers of Impressionism in the world. | Source: © Museum Barberini

Claude Monet | The Flowered Meadow, 1885 | Museum Barberini

After moving to Giverny in 1883, Claude Monet devoted himself to the rural surroundings. Here he guides the viewer’s gaze over the high-growing grasses to the playing children.
There are numerous things to intrigue the senses in the meadow. The painter makes the blades of grass tangible for viewers.
The grass retains the light and warmth of the spring day and evokes the fresh smell of a meadow landscape. | Source: © Museum Barberini

Claude Monet | Wheatfield, 1881 | Museum Barberini

With a simple horizontal arrangement of landscape and sky, Claude Monet composed a picture space that accentuates the groups of poplars.
He painted the surfaces with nuanced brushwork. Fine gradations of color, sophisticated inner structures, and the play of the cirrus clouds add a sense of exuberance to the overall static concept.
As is so often the case in Monet’s paintings, a path in the foreground serves to direct the gaze in the composition. | Source: © Museum Barberini

Claude Monet | Grainstacks, 1890 | Museum Barberini

In an extensive series of twenty-five paintings, executed in 1890/91, Claude Monet focused on the grainstacks that stood in the fields near his house in Giverny.
He examined them systematically in different light and weather conditions.
In this composition Monet directs the gaze diagonally along a row of grainstacks into the depth of the picture space. The rays of sunshine cut across this diagonal. The bright play of colors culminates on the edges of the grainstack in the foreground.

Monet’s paintings from this series bear the French title Meules, a word that can be translated as “stacks”.
For a long time the title was misinterpreted as Haystacks; however, the objects in Monet’s paintings are actually sheaves of grain.
In the agriculture of nineteenth-century Normandy, conical stacks of unthreshed grain were covered with straw or hay to protect the valuable harvest from moisture and rot.

Monet, who had a fine sensibility for the structure of the landscape, must have been fascinated by these quasi-sculptural objects of considerable size that appeared at the same time every year in the fields surrounding his house, covering the meadows in a kind of temporary installation.
The motif also had symbolic character for the predominantly agricultural community of Giverny, and at the same time allowed Monet, by means of his serial approach, to explore the cyclical transformation of nature in the changing of the seasons—and with it the very passage of time.
This work has a special place among the twenty-five versions of grainstacks that Monet painted within the space of only a few months in 1890 and 1891.
The strong visual diagonal introduces a dynamic element into the composition, which the artist strengthened by means of unusually intense colors and a backlit effect.
More than any other version of the motif, the composition shows the influence of the colored Japanese woodcuts that Monet, like many of his fellow artists, so enthusiastically collected.
In the late nineteenth century this picture, along with eight other variations of the Grainstacks, was in the possession of the Chicago collector and patroness Bertha Palmer. | Source: © Museum Barberini

Claude Monet | The Water-Lily Pond, 1918 | Museum Barberini

The artist's focus on the surface of the water-lily pond results in a flatness that is unprecedented in landscape painting. Reflections of the weeping willow and the clouds are indicated with smudges of paint.
The picture can be imagined beyond its edges. Around the time this painting was created, Claude Monet began working on the water-lily panoramas that were installed in the Musée de l’Orangerie after his death.

In his early depictions of water lilies from 1903-04, Monet had suggested spatial depth by integrating the water’s edge or the surrounding vegetation into the image.
Yet even in these compositions, the reflective surface of the water emancipated itself as the dominant pictorial motif, where the ever-changing reflections of plants and sky could be juxtaposed with the firm contours of the water lilies.
In later variations such as this large-scale piece—which includes no motif other than the pond itself-Monet’s attention is focused more on the mysterious configurations of color within the reflections. The water functions as a pure field for projection and thus metaphorically as a duplication of the actual canvas.

The process of fragmentation, as well as the striking view from nearby and above, undermines the conventional rules of landscape painting: above and below, foreground, middle ground, and background no longer provide the viewer with reliable points of orientation.
Instead, an all-over effect is created in which the pond appears as a unified, spatially unbounded field, allowing the free handling of color and form as autonomous visual elements.
Already in his Grainstacks of 1890–91, Monet had used a serial approach to explore fleeting changes of atmosphere and to document the differing appearances of objects under differing conditions of color, shade, and light.
The reflective qualities of the pond allowed him to pursue this process even more consistently and bring his painting to the threshold of pure abstraction.
When Monet began to exhibit his Nymphéas in 1909, many of his contemporaries were impressed by the poetic effect of his late garden pictures with their dreamlike atmosphere of introspection and retreat from the world.

The critic Roger Marx, for example, interpreted the water lily pictures as the epitome of "emotion, joy, and humanism" through which Monet was seeking to express the human longing for oneness with nature.
Regardless of whether his images of water lilies were actually inspired by pantheistic impulses of this kind, Monet’s paintings of the water garden evoke themes that transcend the domestic motif: the vitality of water as a life-giving, cosmic, primeval force, as well as the time-honored function of the garden as a symbol of Paradise.
As the artist told Marx, "I have no other wish than to mingle more closely with nature... Nature is greatness, power and immortality; compared with her, a creature is nothing but a miserable atom".
In the four-volume catalogue raisonné of Monet's paintings compiled by Daniel Wildenstein, the painting in the Hasso Plattner Collection is listed as no. 1884.
Other works from this series, consisting of horizontal compositions in tones of yellow and green painted around 1918, are now found in collections including the Museum Folkwang in Essen (and the Art Institute of Chicago). | Source: © Museum Barberini

La Collezione Hasso Plattner del Museo Barberini (Germania) contiene più di 100 opere di pittori impressionisti e post-impressionisti, inclusi 34 dipinti di Claude Monet.

Con oltre cento dipinti, dal 22 febbraio al 19 luglio 2020, il Museo Barberini presentò la più grande retrospettiva mai dedicata al pittore impressionista Claude Monet in un museo tedesco.

Il museo d'arte Museum Barberini di Potsdam si trova nel palazzo classicista-barocco Barberini, che è stato modellato sull'omonimo palazzo di Roma. Costruito nel 1770/71 come edificio residenziale per ordine di Federico II per l'abbellimento della città secondo i disegni di Gontard, l'edificio fu distrutto da un raid aereo nel 1945 e demolito nel 1948.
La Fondazione Hasso Plattner, che gestisce anche il museo, ha finanziato la ricostruzione. Per il nuovo edificio (2013-16), la facciata principale è stata ricostruita fedele all'originale. La struttura del vecchio edificio è stata mantenuta, ma lo studio di architettura Hilmer, Sattler e Albrecht (Monaco/Berlino) ha trasformato cinque piani in tre e progettato nuove sale che trasudano grandezza italiana.

Situato nel centro storico di Potsdam all'Alter Markt, il museo comprende 17 sale su 2.200 metri quadrati. Le sale classiche del museo con vista dispiegano un'atmosfera emozionante in corrispondenza delle opere d'arte.
I temi della mostra vanno dai vecchi maestri all'arte contemporanea. Sulla base della collezione della Fondazione Hasso Plattner, tre mostre sono curate e presentate ogni anno, integrate da prestiti da musei nazionali ed internazionali e da collezioni private. Opere di Claude Monet ed Auguste Renoir, tra gli altri, riflettono l'attenzione sull'impressionismo.
Altre aree della collezione includono il Modernismo americano, l'arte dell'epoca della DDR e la pittura dopo il 1989. I visitatori possono navigare attraverso le mostre con le audioguide o l'app Barberini sul proprio smartphone od esplorare il museo in panorami a 360° da casa. | Fonte: © Museum Barberini

Claude Monet | Bordighera, Italy, 1884 | Museum Barberini

Claude Monet experimented with the cropping techniques of photography. In the 19th century, photographers were already marketing the landscape of the Italian coast as paesaggio italiano on a massive scale.
They had also established the popular device of framing the landscape view with pine trees.
Following Monet, many painters traveled to the Mediterranean. Paul Signac and Henri-Edmond Cross settled there permanently in the early 1890s.

After Monet settled in Giverny in 1883, he repeatedly embarked upon painting excursions for weeks at a time to expand his repertoire of motifs.
He strategically chose aspiring tourist regions, where recognizable motifs would make his paintings easier to sell.
One of his most important journeys during these years led him to the Italian coastal city of Bordighera in early 1884, where he painted over 30 medium-sized images of the southern landscape en plein air between January 18 and April 6.

He had discovered the region the previous year during a trip with Pierre-Auguste Renoir, and shortly after his return to Giverny he decided to go back again by himself for a longer stay.
In letters to his companion Alice, Monet documented his progress, and emphasized that in between open air studies he was spending every free moment searching for motifs in and around Bordighera.
Since Monet always depicted the topography of the landscape with great precision, the search for perspectives and angles of view suitable for the creation of a visually appealing picture was a central aspect of his work.
This composition was painted from the slope of the hill Collina dei Mostaccini to the west of Bordighera, which offered a view of the old city and the sea behind it.
The silhouette of the stone buildings with their glowing red tile roofs is framed by the undulating trunks of two pine trees rendered in powerful tones of green and unmixed black.
In the glistening light of the south, the vegetation in the middle ground is veiled in a violet-colored haze, while the sky is depicted in light pink tones.
The painting from the Hasso Plattner Collection belongs to a group of 21 pictures from Bordighera which were purchased en bloc by the art dealer Paul Durand-Ruel in June 1884 for the impressive sum of 18,300 francs. | Source: © Museum Barberini

Claude Monet | The Palazzo Ducale, 1908 | Museum Barberini

The contours of the Doge’s Palace are clearly outlined, while the other buildings on the Grand Canal and Saint Mark’s Campanile are veiled in mist. The mooring posts on the right, known as pali, intensify the impression of depth in the work. With its atmospheric gradations of color, the picture space is reminiscent of William Turner’s paintings, which Claude Monet studied in London.

In 1908, Claude Monet spent ten weeks in Venice at the invitation of the American patron and society hostess Mary Young Hunter, whom he had met in London around 1900.
The art historical significance of the city probably also played a role, since it had captivated some of his most important predecessors, amongst them as J. M. W. Turner and Eugène Boudin.
Monet procured several travel guides for his visit, including the Guide Joanne for Italy in a new edition of 1907 and Pierre Gusmann’s copiously illustrated book Venise from the series “Les Villes d’art célèbres” (Famous Art Cities), published in 1902.
Many of the motifs that Monet explored in Venice were not only found in Gusmann’s book, but also corresponded to views depicted in paintings by famous artists and which also circulated in more popoluar media such as prints, amateur photographs, or postcards.

Among the best-known buildings in the city was the Palazzo Ducale, the former seat of government for the Republic of Venice.
The monumental palace with its cream and pink-colored marble facade and the nearby palazzi along the Bacino San Marco and the north side of the Grand Canal had been standard motifs for 18th-century vedute painting. Monet, too, depicted this building in ten compositions.
This painting is the only one in which the artist adopted a vantage point facing west.
To the right we see the Ponte della Paglia and the adjacent prison buildings, the so-called Prigioni. The two bright orange marble columns at the center mark the entrance to the Piazza di San Marco, whose campanile rises up over the Palazzo Ducale in delicate rose tones.
The diagonal orientation of the palazzi produces a dynamic quality which is atypical of Monet’s Venetian pictures.

While the buildings on the right are rendered with some architectural precision, the background fades into an indistinct swath of haze.
A single gondola sketched in rapid strokes of black animates the otherwise deserted scene.
The mooring posts in the right foreground enhance the impression of spatial depth.
While the location from which Monet painted all of his other Venetian compositions can be determined, here the vantage point remains unclear.
The dark area in the left foreground may depict the edge of a floating, mobile pontoon that would have been positioned in the laguna about at the level of the church of San Giorgio Maggiore.
A mobile structure of this kind could explain the very rapid application of paint as well as the artist’s decision to depict the motif only once, rather than in multiple variations as was otherwise typical of his work at that time. | Source: © Museum Barberini

The Port of Le Havre, Night Effect, 1872 | Museum Barberini

Claude Monet had seen the largest harbor in the world in London. Soon after his return to France, he painted Impression: Sunrise in Le Havre, where he had spent his childhood.
The work remains Monet’s most iconic composition and was shown at the First Impressionist Exhibition in Paris in 1874.
Monet painted this companion piece from the same vantage point, a nocturnal scene executed with the same sketch-like determination. Dabs of white paint represent modern gas lighting.

Monet had spent his childhood and youth in Le Havre, a city in Normandy with the second largest port in France, and he repeatedly depicted both the picturesque cliffs along the Atlantic coast and the port area of the economically ambitious region.
Monet painted The Port of Le Havre, Night Effect in 1872 as a pendant to his seminal work Impression, Sunrise (1872, Musée Marmottan Monet, Paris), which attracted attention at the first Impressionist exhibition in 1874.
At first glance, the motif of the industrial harbor with its artificial illumination is difficult to discern through the loose, sketch-like brushstrokes.
Historical photographs, as well as documentation related to the installation of the lighting in Le Havre, demonstrate that Monet rendered the contours of the port with topographical precision.
The two glowing white dots in the upper left of the picture space represent masthead lights, which were required for steamships and could be seen from a great distance in fair weather, even in the dead of night.

A number of red and green lights are also clearly visible, including one at the end of the southern landing stage as well as two side lights on moving boats.
The evenly spaced white dots in a horizontal row in the background, however, represent the gas lanterns that had been installed beginning in 1869.
The true subject of this stylistically radical work is the flickering of these ultra-modern lights and their reflection on the gently rippling water-unlike the contemporaneous Impression, Sunrise, where Monet explored the reddish shimmer of dawn spreading slowly over the port.
Despite the seeming abstraction of their visual language, both works bear witness to the artist’s pursuit of an authentic rendering of the motif under specific conditions of weather and light.
Aside from this work, Monet’s oeuvre of over two thousand paintings includes only four other night scenes: the painting A Seascape, Shipping by Moonlight (ca. 1864, National Galleries of Scotland, Edinburgh) and three night views of Leicester Square in London, painted around 1900-01. | Source: © Museum Barberini

Claude Monet | The River, 1881 | Museum Barberini

Claude Monet depicted an evening on the river using a reduced formal vocabulary. The impulsive play of lines seems to be rapidly set down, as if the painter had wanted to complete the composition just before the sun disappeared.
Several branches glow in the red light of its last rays.
Although the picture has the appearance of a sketch, the artist’s signature indicates that he considered it an independent, completed work.
According to Academic standards, a finished painting was characterized by a polished surface in which even subordinate elements should be developed in some detail.
Monet resisted this aesthetic of the fini by dissolving the traditional distinction between the preparatory sketch (esquisse or étude) and the painting intended for exhibition (tableau).
His dynamic brushwork and sketch-like approach to the painted surface gave his works a sense of immediacy and freshness normally reserved for the rapidly executed study or sketch.
The River of 1881 is a classic example of the Impressionist dissolution of the painted surface into a pulsating web of visible brushstrokes in pure colors. The red rowboat in the lower left sets a strong visual accent, though it is difficult to identify at first glance.
Many of Monet’s critics would not have considered this radically abstracted river landscape worthy of exhibition.
But Monet was concerned to reveal the material process by which his paintings were made and to emphasize both the act of painting and his personal handwriting as an artist.
The signature in the lower right corner indicates that Monet himself viewed the painting as an independent, finished work, though it was never exhibited during his lifetime. | Source: © Museum Barberini