Just finished reading Ross King’s award winning biography of Monet, Mad Enchantment: Claude Monet and the Painting of the Water Lilies. A very informative account of the last, great years of the artist who, after WW2, influenced abstract expressionists like Pollock and Riopelle. What was interesting is that Monet wouldn’t look at the modern, abstract art being made in his time because, according to Ross, ‘it might make him angry’. What is particularly interesting is the history of an artist trying to work, shake off (or work with) the despondency and crankiness, created by war time. Very apropos for artists working today feeling dispirited by the Trump government and world affairs that truly feel like war time or an end time. Monet’s struggle with failing eyesight and health along with all the worries of living in a war zone make for a good read. The triumph of the water lilies, the beauty that an artist can create under duress is truly inspiring. These painting in the Orangerie are incredibly beautiful and to read their history gives them even more depth. The contemporary negative criticism is unbelievable, but there you have it. A bit of a yawn at times but lots of facts about Monet’s life and work habits, and the social conditions of living in France during WW1. The Guitry film of Monet painting waterlilies at the age of 75, mentioned by King, can be seen on YouTube. I think that Sue Roe’s In Montmartre: Picasso, Matisse and Modernism in Paris, 1900-1910 is a more lively read for a history of modern European art.