The Path through the Irises, 1914–17
Claude Monet (French, 1840–1926)
Oil on canvas; 78 7/8 x 70 7/8 in. (200.3 x 180 cm)
The painting is big, a size that suggests its importance for Monet. The slight turn in the path, so easily overlooked in real life, composes the painting. Gary Tinterow, in his note on the Met website, suggests that "like those he made of water lilies, his paintings of irises were meant to rise from the particular to the universal. In this work, the most highly finished of the series, the flowers are offered not as botanical specimens but as archetypes." I thought I detected all the seven colors of the rainbow in the painting. Tinterow saw "the unusual harmony of ocher, violet, blue green, and yellow green." A poignant biographical detail he noted was that "although the artist was already experiencing great difficulties with his eyesight, any grower of irises will recognize that he knowingly found the reddish purple tint that hides within every blue iris."
I also visited the Jasper Johns: Gray exhibition the second time, and got more out of it. I did not enjoy the iconic flag of America paintings, but like the paintings inspired by poets like Ted Berrigan, and Frank O' Hara, especially the haunting drawing on paper Diver, inspired by Hart Crane's suicide.
Periscope (Hart Crane), 1963, Oil on canvas; 67 x 48 in. (170.2 x 121.9 cm)
Diver, Jasper Johns