One of the jewels of NE Ohio is the Cleveland Museum of Art. Located in the heart of the University Circle area of Cleveland, it has one of the finest art collections in the country and draws more than half a million visitors a year. It also has a broad local support base, including me. Having been a member for years, I try not to miss a new exhibition there and recently I saw the latest. Painting the Modern Garden: Monet to Matisse is running now through January 5th 2016 and already has received rave reviews from the local media. Even if it weren’t for the buzz, I would have gone anyway since I am a fan of Claude Monet’s work and, naturally, his paintings are the focal point of the entire show.
In my opinion, the show covers twice the space of previous ones and the hallway was converted into the exhibit gift shop with the standard books and trinkets related to the show and it’s theme. As for the exhibition itself, Painting the Modern Garden was remarkable. The paintings cover the time of the Impressionists to just before the Great Depression in time and it’s not just Monet and Matisse represented. There were fellow Impressionists such as Pissaro and Renoir, American painters of the period, and even works by Norwegian painter Edward Munch. There seems to be something for everyone. However, the highlight is the last room of the exhibit. There, many pieces that Monet painted for a project for the Musee Rodin in Paris in the 1920s (that was cancelled due to lack of funds) are put together to give visitors an idea how they originally were to be shown. For example, the Art Museum’s waterlilies panel is joined by the ones from the St. Louis and Kansas City Museums of Art as one large panel; as the artist intended. This was already done for an exhibit in St. Louis three years back and together, the three are an impressive sight, as were the wisterias across the room (an example of which can be seen here courtesy of Oberlin College). Naturally, these were the most popular paintings in the show.
For anyone who plans to visit Cleveland in the upcoming months, they should take the time to see this.
Photographs by James Valentino