Stephen Shore vs. Monet

While in the gardening section at some random used book store in the city, I came across a Stephen Shore book I didn’t know about: The Gardens at Giverny – A View of Monet’s World:

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“Claude Monet found inspiration in the rose-covered trellises, wild rambles of nasturtiums, and idle drift of water lilies in the gardens of Giverny outside Paris. So too did Stephen Shore who photographed the gardens one hundred years later after their painstaking restoration. Commissioned by The Metropolitan Museum of Art to photograph the renascence of the gardens, Shore visited Giverny over six years beginning in 1977. Going to the gardens before dawn and leaving after dusk, in different seasons, he came to know them in all the moods and textures that inspired Monet. Shore’s fidelity to the gardens’ plenitude and his desire to present the abstract beauty of nature result in exquisitely serene photographs that express the essence of Giverny.”

So interesting that the Met hired someone like Stephen Shore to photograph Monet’s gardens…where did the idea for that juxtaposition come from? Art relates to art, but to hire Shore, who is known for his stark portrayal of the usually unnoticed miscellaneous, to document somewhere as obviously lush and cultivated to be noticed as Giverny is interesting. Maybe they were hoping for the revelation of something previously unseen, even by Monet himself. While the photos are different than the usual imitations of Monet’s paintings, I don’t think a fresh look was necessarily accomplished. Don’t get me wrong, I am a huge fan of Shore, but the only thing The Garden’s At Giverny puts under the harsh light is that his talent is not being used properly.

Regardless, the book fuses together 2 of my favorite artists, and while I already own Stephen Shore’s American Surfaces, the only Monet-related book I own is one my painter grandma gave me when I was a kid: Linnea in Monet’s Garden. It’s so nice to have a grown-up version now!



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