Cleveland welcomes modern gardens in “Monet to Matisse” art exhibit

November 19th, 2015

The Cleveland Museum of Art is acting as a temporary home to some new additions in a recently assembled exhibit. The show, titled, “Painting the Modern Garden: Monet to Matisse,” is open to museum patrons now.


The focus of the exhibit is to showcase the role that gardens have played throughout art history, ranging from the Impressionist Period as demonstrated by Monet and the Post-Impressionist Period as demonstrated by Matisse, with avant-garde pieces and others in between.


The periods of these works of art range from before the Franco-Prussian War of 1870 through the early stages of World War II in 1940. The artists whose works are displayed hail from countries such as France, Spain and Germany.


The collection is made possible due to a collaboration between the Cleveland Museum of Art and the Royal Academy of Arts in London. Between these two institutions, they managed to collect an impressive 107 pieces to display.


The exhibit is, for the most part, arranged chronologically.


According to the Cleveland Museum of Art’s website, “The exhibition will lead visitors through the evolution of the garden theme, from Impressionist visions of light and atmosphere to retreats for reverie and dreams, sites for bold experimentation, sanctuaries of refuge and healing, and, ultimately, signifiers of a world restored to order—a paradise regained.


A&L Monet to Matisse

Framing these paintings in the context of broad artistic movements, as well as social and political events, will offer unprecedented paths for understanding the garden as a multifaceted, universal theme in modern art.”


Sure to be a highlight is Monet’s triptych Water Lilies (Agapanthus). This is the first time that all three pieces of the painting are being reunited since 1980.


The pieces are joined together to form a single image measuring 41 feet across and six and a half feet high.


The exhibit also explains the reasoning behind this huge sector where horticulture and art meet.


It offers patrons of the show a more in depth look into why gardening seems to be a shared vein amongst these artists who all work in many styles and time periods.


Their explanation is that an interest in flowers and gardening largely stemmed from the work done by turn of the 19th century scientists such as Gregor Mendel and Charles Darwin.


Another reason why the gardens theme became so popular was due to an economic turn. This allowed for a middle class that was wealthy enough to own gardens at European villas or country homes or in “garden cities” that appeared along commuter rail and streetcar lines throughout England and America.


The show also includes a more unexpected theme of war.


Monet refused to leave his garden and studio in Paris in 1914, despite the advancement of German troops. Matisse’s work features a more domesticated garden that resulted when he had to move his plants indoors as a precaution against air raids in World War II.


This exhibit is open now and runs through January 5, 2016. Tickets are $18 for adults and $16 for students.


Editor’s Note: Information from and was used in this report.