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Late Style and its DiscontentsEssays in art, literature, and music$
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Gordon McMullan and Sam Smiles

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780198704621

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2016

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198704621.001.0001

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The Infinity of Water Lilies

The Infinity of Water Lilies

On Monet’s Late Paintings

(p.209) 13 The Infinity of Water Lilies
Late Style and its Discontents

Bente Larsen

Oxford University Press

Around 1900, radical changes take place in Monet’s work. Instead of the previous harmonious compositional and colouristic schemes, hot and almost garish effects are now introduced into his pictorial language together with an increase in boldness in the use of the brush, often to the extent of fragmentation. In his Grandes Décorations, inaugurated in 1927, one year after his death, decomposition and fragmentation are radicalized, making volume and depth indefinable, and opening up a new way of phenomenologically including the viewer. This chapter discusses these changes in relation to biographical issues such as age and impaired vision, as well as from the point of departure of the concept of ‘late work’, as it is formulated by Adorno in particular. It concludes that from an art-historical point of view the late paintings of Monet were not ‘late’ but progressively avant-garde.

Keywords:   late style, painting, gesture, fragment, avant-garde, art history

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