“Monet matured in an aesthetic that insisted on painting the material world. But that insistence on the actual left the artist many options and responsibilities:
“what to select to see, how to see it, how to represent that seeing, what expectations to demand of the spectator.”
source: “Monet and Architecture” exhibition catalogue introduction, p19
When I was wandering around the Monet and Architecture exhibition** currently on at the National Gallery in London I heard someone say to their companion that a particular painting wasn’t meant for look at up close. I refrained from introducing them to the concept of a painting “rewarding close looking”, of how a painting can tell a different story depending on the distance at which you’re viewing it.
Photorealism tells you the same story up from across the room and up close — it still looks like a photo — whereas Impressionism tells you a whole new story, about colour and mark making for instance, rather than about appearance.
We hear lots about what painters should and shouldn’t do, but far less about what expectations might be had of people looking at our paintings.
In a nutshell, if you like Monet go and see it if you can or get the exhibition catalogue if you can’t, not least for the various painting from private collections.