Weeping Willow

7:00 AM

Claude Monet, Weeping Willow, 1919

You walk by Weeping Willow and stop. You see the layers upon layers of paint and wonder “How did Monet create this?” You feel his process, the hum drum of painting that led to the piece in front of you. Not a snapshot of a moment in time, but a story. The modern era instilled a new anxiety in the painter, a fear of the photograph. The camera caused an entire movement by painters to reveal their mistakes, a missed brushstroke here or the previous ideas that led to the final piece. 

Day by day Monet built upon his painting, adding and exploring the image itself and his own mind. All to be seen. Admired. Loved. Hated. Critiqued. Monet labors and we see it. The modern era marks an obsession with the eye, the art of viewing, as Richard Brettell calls it in his Modern Art: 1851-1929. No longer did the salon or artist dictate the meaning behind a work, but the viewer took control. Altering the goal of the artist to not simply please, but to strive for a genuine connection. 

You might think that this idea caused artists to paint with the audience in mind, but by limiting themselves to a specific group or person the artist destroyed the impact of the painting. A true modernist painting acts as beacon of understanding to all. 

In Weeping Willow, Monet paints with WWI in mind recounting the war’s effect on his own life and the world. By signing the painting on Armistice Day, Monet marks this painting as his contribution to the peace effort. 

Monet captures the ravaged family sphere left in the aftermath of the war with his single standing tree. To the viewer in 1919 Monet understood an immeasurable event. However, the true worth of Weeping Willow lies in its ability to comfort those of today. Brettell argues that true greatness in art comes from an artist’s ability to create a work that not only can withstand the viewer, but time. 

Weeping Willow is felt in a your heart, the lone tree, reminding you of the isolation you once felt with the twisted and gnarled branches that represented your mind and emotions. In the corner beams a light reminding you that things will be all right. 

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