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Thursday, December 14, 2017

Monet’s ‘Water Lilies’ triptych premiering in Kansas City, then to St. Louis and Cleveland

Nicole Myers, Associate Curator of European Painting and Sculpture at the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, left, talks about Claude Monet's painting technique used on his painting "Water Lilies" as Mary Schafer, associate conservator, shines a light on a section of the work during a media preview, Friday, April 1, 2011, in Kansas City, Mo. For the first time in 30 years, the three panel work of the Impressionist artist will be on display at the museum and will run from April 9 through Aug. 7, 2011. Nicole Myers, Associate Curator of European Painting and Sculpture at the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, left, talks about Claude Monet's painting technique used on his painting "Water Lilies" as Mary Schafer, associate conservator, shines a light on a section of the work during a media preview, Friday, April 1, 2011, in Kansas City, Mo. For the first time in 30 years, the three panel work of the Impressionist artist will be on display at the museum and will run from April 9 through Aug. 7, 2011. Credit: Ed Zurga

f impressionist master Claude Monet’s “Water Lilies” triptychs, separated 50 years ago and sold to three museums, has been reunited in a multifaceted exhibit that highlights not only the three-panel artwork, but the artist too.

“I think all of us think of Monet as this father of Impressionism, as this painter who was spontaneous, who painted outdoors in his garden,” said Nicole Myers, associate curator at the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, where “Monet’s Water Lilies” opens April 9. “That was certainly true. He presented himself that way publicly, really to the end of his life.”

But Monet had another side that’s also detailed in the exhibition, which ends Aug. 7 before moving on to the St. Louis Art Museum and then to the Cleveland Museum of Art.

“With these later paintings from the 20th century that he’s working on, you see the sort of obsessive, almost obsessive-compulsive, artist who came indoors and worked tirelessly making revisions again and again in this kind of obsessive way,” she said.

It’s unclear if Monet ever considered the three panels finished, she said.

“And it really blows out of the water this impression we have of this man who just sort of dashed off his first thoughts and left things alone. He worked on them almost consistently from 1915 to 1926,” Myers said.

The three panels, each 6-feet tall and 14-feet wide, languished in Monet’s studio at Giverny outside Paris after his death in 1926, Myers said. The pieces on display at the Nelson-Atkins comprise one of two of Monet’s Water Lily triptychs in the U.S. The other is at the Museum of Modern Art in New York, where they are a steady, popular selection.

“What’s amazing about them is the mood they create in the room where they’re installed,” said Ann Temkin’s, MoMA’s chief curator of paintings and sculpture. “It’s a magical one. It becomes a very quiet place. The visitors become quite contemplative.”

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