Forgive our scolding of legendary landscape artist Claude Monet, but his inviting, indelible landscapes lack one vital element: a magic doorway. You can’t step inside his wondrous compositions. Serious gyp.
How can one gaze upon, say, “Entrance to the Village of Vetheuil in Winter” and not want to stride straight into it? Not want to stroll up the snow-dusted path to the quaint, cozy village overshadowed by a mountainous backdrop and bathed in soft gray skies, a perfect seasonal tableau of winter’s bleak but beautiful embrace?
Is it just a longing for that strangely satisfying winter melancholy that Vegas can’t provide even on the chilliest of February days? No—it’s Monet. Though not quite an art critic’s verbiage, let’s put it this way: Dude had a knack.
“The way he uses color and light is quite amazing,” says Tarissa Tiberti, director of the Bellagio Gallery of Fine Art, which celebrates the French impressionist through year’s end at its exhibition, Claude Monet: Impressions of Light, organized in partnership with the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston. “When you talk about color and light, two of the scenes are snow scenes and even though it’s a cloudy day, and you wouldn’t think you’d be able to see any color, there are greens and purples and things you wouldn’t remember in your memory.”
Paintings by other landscape artists—Jean Baptiste-Camille Corot, Constant Troyon, Eugene Louis Boudin and Charles-Francois Daubigny—complement the 20-piece Monet collection, but as Tiberti notes: “They are there to showcase where he came from and where his artwork was going after that, who was following him.”
One of the most accessible of the world’s great artists, Monet’s creations are familiar even to those who don’t know his name, so immediately identifiable are his warm sunsets, lush fields and vibrant green grass, rendered in smooth brushstrokes. Evidence is abundant in this exhibit, from the serene pathway of trees winding toward the ocean in “The Path of La Cavée at Pourville” to the sun gently streaking through blue-green waters in the tranquil “Morning on the Seine.”
“The richness I achieve comes from nature, the source of my inspiration,” reads one of several Monet quotes sprinkled throughout the walls of the gallery. “I have no other wish than to mingle more clearly with nature and I aspire to no other destiny than to work and live in harmony with her laws.”
Given that the city’s cultural cognoscenti are laser-focused on the downtown Arts District, the Bellagio Gallery of Fine Art, sequestered on the Strip, can sometimes seem excluded and isolated from the scene. Yet it is a crucial component of the Vegas art world, a reminder of the legends in the midst of the up-and-comers.
You can’t step inside these masterworks but you can stand before them, impressed by the artistry, entranced by the beauty, desperate for that magic doorway.