Claude Monet and His Waterlilies
For Monet, the true subject is not really the lilies, but the changing reflections on the pond…where lilies mingle with the clouds and trees. Monet cropped his scenes ever closer, until there was no sense of what’s up or down…until you’re completely immersed.
Complete Video Script
[59, Monet's garden at Giverny, outside Paris] Impressionism reached its culmination with the same man who started it — Claude Monet. Late in life, Monet moved to this garden estate. The colorful gardens were like his brushstrokes — a bit slap-dash but part of a carefully composed mosaic. Monet made a pond and filled it with water lilies.
[60, Water Lilies, Monet, Orangerie] He painted the water lilies in this ensemble of canvases — all focusing on the ever-changing light….from the predawn darkness…to clear morning light…to afternoon lavender…to golden sunset. He'd start by laying down thick, big brushstrokes of a single color, horizontal and vertical to create a dense mesh of foliage…then add more color for the dramatic highlights, until he got a dense paste of piled-up paint. Up close, it's messy — but back up, and the colors resolve into a luminous scene…just pure reflected color.
 The true subject is not really the lilies, but the changing reflections on the pond…where lilies mingle with the clouds and trees. Monet cropped his scenes ever closer, until there was no shoreline, no horizon, no sense of what's up or down…until you're completely immersed. In his final paintings, the great Impressionist Monet dissolved the physical subject more and more into purely abstract patterns of colorful paint…anticipating the future of art.