The Nelson-Atkins Press Release
Claude Monet’s Water Lilies

Massive Water Lilies Painting Focus of Immersive Experience at Nelson-Atkins

Adjacent Exhibition Explores Impressionist Painters’ Friendships

Kansas City, MO. Feb. 2, 2020–The beloved painting that has been the centerpiece for the Bloch Galleries at The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art in Kansas City, Claude Monet’s Water Lilies, will be moved to a dedicated gallery for an exciting, immersive exhibition, Monet Water Lilies: From Dawn to Dusk, opening Feb. 12. This exhibition will present the painting with a 10-minute light program that emulates the rise and fall of daylight and plays every quarter-hour. It will be accompanied by nature sounds from Monet’s garden in Giverny.

Monet's Water Lilies
Claude Monet (French, 1840 – 1926) Water Lilies, c. 1915-1925. Oil on canvas, 79 × 167 3/4 inches. Purchase: William Rockhill Nelson Trust, 57-26

“When Claude Monet began work on this large-scale triptych, it was against the backdrop of war,” said Julián Zugazagoitia, Menefee D. and Mary Louise Blackwell CEO & Director of the Nelson-Atkins. “In this moment of death, destruction, and chaos all around him, he chose to focus on a verdant portion of his garden that demonstrated life, serenity, and control. This immersive new exhibition transports visitors to Giverny without ever leaving Kansas City.”

Monet set his easel outside and painted, closely observing and attempting to render the effect of light in surface shapes, colors, and shadows as they shifted throughout the day. He completed the canvas in his studio from memory, as soldiers, including the artist’s son, and stepson marched to the front lines to defend their country. For Monet, his Water Lilies canvases offered an escape.

“The advanced light and sound technologies in the galleries allow us to realize the vision of the exhibition,” said Aimee Marcereau DeGalan, Louis L. and Adelaide C. Ward, Senior Curator of European Arts. “That is, to recreate conditions that mimic the kind of sensory stimuli Monet drew upon that inspired him to create Water Lilies. In our parallel moment of chaos and loss, it is our hope, as it was Monet’s, that these works would offer ‘a refuge of peaceful meditation.’”

The exhibition also features a short video of Monet painting in his garden at the outbreak of World War I.

Replacing Water Lilies in the Bloch Galleries will be an intimate exhibition, Among Friends: Guillaumin, Cezanne, Pissarro. For more than 20 years, Armand Guillaumin (1841–1927), Paul Cezanne (1839–1906) and Camille Pissarro (1830–1903) counted one another as among the closest of friends. In 1861, the three met and formed an immediate bond at the Académie Suisse in Paris, where they rejected tradition and academic training. They exhibited together in Paris first at the Salon des Refusées in 1863, and again at several of the annual Impressionist exhibitions. At the beginning of the 1870s, they lived and worked in Paris and the surrounding suburban countryside, sharing vantage points, exchanging works, and trading innovative techniques.

This exhibition features two paintings by Guillaumin on loan from local private collections, one of which marks its American debut in this newly conceived installation. These include an early panoramic landscape of a commune outside of Paris, and a boldly colored later work entitled Country Lane in Damiette, painted around 1885-1887. These paintings will join some of the museum’s most celebrated treasures for the first time in a new and exciting context that promotes friendship, exchange, and creativity.

Although Guillaumin, Cezanne, and Pissarro went their separate ways in the mid-1880s, they acknowledged their lasting influence on one another’s work up until their respective deaths. Towards the end of his life, Pissarro wrote of their time together in Pontoise, “By Jove, we were inseparable! […] Each of us retained the only thing that matters, ‘his sense of feeling’.”

Both exhibitions open Feb. 12, 2021 and close Jan. 23, 2022.

The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art
The Nelson-Atkins in Kansas City is recognized nationally and internationally as one of America’s finest art museums. The museum, which strives to be the place where the power of art engages the spirit of community, opens its doors free of charge to people of all backgrounds. The museum is an institution that both challenges and comforts, that both inspires and soothes, and it is a destination for inspiration, reflection and connecting with others.

The Nelson-Atkins serves the community by providing access to its renowned collection of more than 42,000 art objects and is best known for its Asian art, European and American paintings, photography, modern sculpture, and Native American and Egyptian galleries. Housing a major art research library and the Ford Learning Center, the Museum is a key educational resource for the region. In 2017, the Nelson-Atkins celebrated the 10-year anniversary of the Bloch Building, a critically acclaimed addition to the original 1933 Nelson-Atkins Building.

The Nelson-Atkins is located at 45th and Oak Streets, Kansas City, MO. Hours are 10 a.m.–5 p.m. Friday through Monday; 10 a.m.–9 p.m. Thursday; closed Tuesday and Wednesday. Admission to the museum is free to everyone; timed tickets must be secured on the website. For museum information, phone 816.751.1ART (1278) or visit nelson-atkins.org.

For media interested in receiving further information, please contact:

Kathleen Leighton, Manager, Media Relations and Video Production
The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art
816.751.1321
kleighton@nelson-atkins.org