Claude Monet devoted the last twenty-five years of his life to paintings of the Japanese-style pond and gardens of his property in Giverny, France. For nearly two decades, these works were considered messy and unstructured, even unfinished, and less appreciated than the artist’s classic Impressionist works. In 1955 The Museum of Modern Art became the first public collection in the United States to acquire one of the large-scale compositions, and since then the history of Monet’s Water Lilies has been intertwined with that of the Museum, because of their importance for scores of contemporary artists and for the beloved position they have come to hold for the general audience. An essay by Ann Temkin and Nora Lawrence recounts the history of Monet’s late works at the Museum and lays bare their resonance with the art and artists of our time.
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