Starting this Thursday, the National Gallery of Canada (NGC) presents in a world exclusive Monet: A Bridge to Modernity, a dossier exhibition highlighting the innovative way in which Claude Monet (1840−1926) explored the motif of the bridge. On until February 15, 2016, Monet: A Bridge to Modernity is the first monographic exhibition in Canada devoted to the artist in almost two decades.
This focus exhibition brings together twelve seminal paintings from prestigious public and private collections around the world. Monet painted these works in Argenteuil, a bustling suburb of Paris where he settled in late 1871 after his self-imposed exile in London and Holland during the Franco-Prussian war (1870–1871).
Monet’s early masterpiece Le pont de bois, the centrepiece of the exhibition, depicts the Argenteuil highway bridge under repair following the destruction wrought by the war⎯a tribute to France’s return to order. Monet’s friend, the painter Édouard Manet, was among the first to recognize the significance of the painting when he acquired it for his own collection.
The daring composition of Le pont de bois, in which Monet demonstrates a conscious interest in “picture-making,” became the point of departure for similar explorations of the bridge theme, each with a different viewpoint, technique, colour and brushwork. What resulted was paintings of startling modernity that cemented Monet’s status as one of the leaders of the 19th-century French avant-garde.
Monet: A Bridge to Modernity casts new light on Le pont de bois as it delves into the historic, sociological and artistic context of the early years of Impressionism in the early 1870s. The twelve paintings on view are accompanied by a collection of nineteenth-century photographs, illustrations, guide books, Japanese prints and postcards.
About the painting Le pont de bois
Le pont de bois shows the reconstruction of the Argenteuil highway bridge destroyed during the Franco-Prussian war that crosses the Seine near Monet’s home and that fascinated the artist. Here he offers us a glimpse of modern life: the bridge bustles with the traffic of workers returning home on foot and by carriage, while in the distance a plume of smoke rises from a steamboat chugging along the river.
This dossier exhibition was organized by Anabelle Kienle Poňka, Associate Curator of European and American Art.
A beautifully illustrated, bilingual publication accompanies the exhibition. The catalogue features essays by Anabelle Kienle Poňka, Associate Curator of European and American Art at the NGC, Richard Thomson, Watson Gordon Professor of Fine Arts at the University of Edinburgh, and Simon Kelly, Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art at the Saint Louis Art Museum. It may be purchased for $25 at the NGC Bookstore and online at shopngc.ca.
In connection with the exhibition
A series of activities to enhance the exhibition experience have been scheduled, including gallery talks by experts, lectures, guided tours, an art workshop activity and photo sessions inspired by Monet’s period. For dates and details, visit the exhibition website at gallery.ca/monet.
NGCmagazine.ca, the National Gallery of Canada’s online magazine, is a frequently updated source of information on the Canadian art world and events at the National Gallery of Canada. Correspondents from across the country provide engaging and exclusive content on historical and contemporary art in Canada. This online magazine also includes interviews with artists. This month, read the article Monet’s Impressive Bridges at Argenteuil.
Connect with the Gallery
The NGC is open Tuesday to Sunday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Thursdays until 8 p.m. Closed Mondays. Open from noon until 5 pm on 11 November (Remembrance Day). Open between December 26 and 31. Closed on December 25 and January 1. For more information call 613-990-1985 or 1-800-319-ARTS.
Included with admission to the national collection: $12 (adults); $10 (seniors and full-time students); $6 (youth: 12-19); $24 (families: two adults and three youth). Admission is free for children under the age of 12 and for Members.
About the National Gallery of Canada
The National Gallery of Canada is home to the most important collections of historical and contemporary Canadian art. The Gallery also maintains Canada's premier collection of European Art from the 14th to the 21st century, as well as important works of American, Asian and Indigenous Art and renowned international collections of prints, drawings and photographs. Created in 1880, the National Gallery of Canada has played a key role in Canadian culture for well over a century. Among its principal missions is to increase access to excellent works of art for all Canadians. For more information, visit gallery.ca.
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