FRANCE / Paris / l'Orangerie: At the source of the Water Lilies
by Modem
© Modem

until Monday July 11 2022

Musée d l'Orangerie


At the source of the Water Lilies: the Impressionist décor

"It has been my lifelong dream to paint walls," Degas confided. The artist was not the only one who wanted to participate in the numerous decorative projects of the late 19th century. Although Manet and the Impressionists did not receive official commissions, they produced paintings and decorative objects throughout their careers. They experimented with many techniques while redefining in their own way the very idea of "decorative", a paradoxical notion, both positive and depreciative, at the heart of artistic practice, aesthetic and social reflection at the end of the 19th century.

This aspect of Impressionism is little known today. Yet the Water Lilies cycle at the Orangery, which Monet called his "great decorations", crowns more than sixty years of forays into this field. And if the paintings exhibited by the Impressionists were shocking, it was also because they were seen as simple decorations, devoid of meaning and devoted solely to the pleasure of the senses. In 1874, a critic wrote that what Monet was painting was like "wallpaper".

This exhibition is the first to explore another history of Impressionism, with works by Cassatt, Cézanne, Degas, Manet, Monet, Morisot, Pissarro and Renoir, from all over the world, some of which have rarely or never been shown in France. It shows how, through some eighty paintings, fans, ceramics and drawings, the Impressionists forged a new path, with the conviction that, to quote Renoir, art is made above all to "brighten up the walls".

© Modem