“Monet/Mitchell” Shows How the Impressionist’s Blindness Charted a Path for Abstraction
Claude Monet: Weeping Willow, 1921-22.
Artists, we are so often told, help us see the world differently. In the case of Claude Monet (1840–1926), this is literally true. Famously, 100 years ago, the French painter underwent surgery to “correct” the cataracts that had been increasingly blurring his vision for a decade or two. After the surgery, though his vision sharpened, colors continued to appear dull and cool.
You can see this in the canvases he made as he neared that surgery and post-op. Viewing a painting like The Japanese Bridge (Pont japonais), ca. 1918–24,one assumes that the vibrant chartreuse and heavy dabs of crimson must have looked slightly more naturalistic to the artist—they are so unusual, so different from his earlier, iridescent pastel palettes. In Weeping Willow (Saule pleureur), ca. 1921–22, gestural lines blur the image until it veers into abstraction. Without the title as a guide, the arboreal referents of his arching brushstrokes would hardly be recognizable.
Knowing of other painters who have been working with or embracing their visual disturbances is a great help to my adjustment, I wonder though if any two people see the same thing when they look at the same apple from the same perspective?
Maybe my vision is why I gravitate toward abstract. My sister encouraged me to paint what I see, rather than what I know things look like but I’ve not yet done that.
Please let me know of other painters in this category if you know of them.