Consider this fair warning—today’s post contains a bit of an Art History lesson. Forgive me in advance. I realize this may be somewhat involved for a Friday…
On my recent visit to the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA for all you Angelenos), I saw an exhibit that has really stuck with me. It is the Monet/Lichtenstein: Rouen Cathedrals exhibit and it runs through January 1st.
The Rouen Cathedral is located in France. Construction began in 1202, but was not completed until 1880. As a result of this insanely long stretch of time there are many different architectural styles present, most notable Early, High and Late Gothic as well as some Renaissance. It is an iconic Catholic Cathedral not only renowned for its beauty, but also as home to the tomb of Richard The Lionheart’s heart.
Claude Monet was a founder of the French Impressionism movement. While he painted throughout the second half of the 19th Century and into the early 20th Century, Monet’s paintings of the Rouen Cathedral were created during the 1890’s. His style, which usually depicted outdoor themes, was characterized by visible brush strokes with an emphasis on light and movement as perceived visually. Monet painted the Rouen Cathedral more than 30 times focusing on the light at different times of day.
Born in 1923, Lichtenstein rose to fame in the 1960s. He continued to work until his death in 1997. Lichtenstein’s comic strip style, which he used to challenge societal perceptions in a humorous manner, featured elements not previously seen in fine art. In 1969 Lichtenstein painted his own interpretation of the Rouen Cathedral in a series of pixilated images that embodied the ironic nature of the Pop Art movement.
Both artists tackled the Rouen Cathedral, in very distinct ways. It is this juxtaposition that I found so fascinating. The idea that 2 people can look at the same building, but see something completely different, speaks volumes about the human experience. It is a reminder that perception changes—whether due to personal experience, passing of time, geography or countless other factors.
What do you think of these pieces? Do you prefer one interpretation of the Rouen Cathedral to the other?
PS- The exhibit is making its rounds throughout the US- make sure to check if it is heading your way!