Monet/Lichtenstein: Rouen Cathedrals

BCAM, Level 3
October 1, 2011–January 2, 2012

Monet/Lichtenstein: Rouen Cathedrals presents a group of Monet’s impressionist Rouen Cathedral paintings together with Lichtenstein’s 1969 appropriation of the same subject.

Monet painted thirty views of the Rouen Cathedral from 1892 to 1895 from different viewing positions, all quite close to one another, at different times of day. The series stands as the hallmark of the revolutionary impressionist movement. Over six decades later, Lichtenstein was inspired to paint his Cathedral series in the style of pop art as a response to the exhibition Serial Imagery at the Pasadena Art Museum. Pop delved into the nature of repetition and seriality by taking an iconic image, cheapened by overexposure, and reinvesting it with renewed, ironic vigor and relevance.

For both Monet and Lichtenstein, the subject of the cathedral is less important than the act of seeing; the installation investigates the nature of this obsession with sight.

These paintings by Monet and Lichtenstein, essential to the formation of modern and post-modernism, present a visual narrative that unites the thematic concerns and visual strategies of these chronologically disparate artists.

This exhibition is organized by the Los Angeles County Museum of Art and the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, and is supported by an indemnity from the Federal Council on the Arts and the Humanities.

This exhibition features exceptional loans from the Musée d'Orsay.

Image: Monet, Claude, Rouen Cathedral, the portal. Morning Sun, Blue Harmony, 1893, Oil on canvas, 91 x 63 cm, Musee d'Orsay, Paris, France (Inv. RF2000), Photo courtesy Réunion des Musées Nationaux by Thierry Le Mage/Art Resource, NY.

The Muse: France’s Rouen Cathedral

After seeing how obsessed both Claude Monet and Roy Lichtenstein were with the Rouen Cathedral in our exhibition Monet/Lichtenstein: Rouen Cathedral—Monet painting numerous versions at various times of the day and year and Lichtenstein mirroring that repetition with Pop art renderings—I began to wonder if other artists had taken the building as their muse...

My Favorite Monet

Claude Monet painted thirty different depictions of the Rouen Cathedrals between 1892 and 1894, ostensibly creating the concept of seriality in art. He intended the paintings to be shown as a group, and the repetition (and the nuance) emphasizes the artist’s hand. Certainly that is apparent when you take in the five Rouen Cathedral paintings on view now (two of which, from the Museé d’Orsay, have never been on view in the U.S. before). The impact of seeing them together is powerful. Funny, then, that the longer I stayed, the more I wondered—which one did I like best..