Sunday, November 16, 2014

Claude Monet’s Ultraviolet Eye - Secret of his Masterpieces

Monet developed severe cataracts in old age that made the colors that had inspired him for decades nearly impossible to perceive. He underwent eye surgery, but his genius continued on - this time in a deeper expression of colors.  
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These two paintings of Claude Monet are of the same scene - The House Seen From the Rose Garden, (1922-1924 series). The red and yellow version was painted as seen through his left eye which was limited to the wavelengths allowed by his cataract.The clouded lenses prevented him from seeing anything but reds and yellows.

The painting in deep blue and violet is assumed to have been Monet's color interpretation with his right eye, the lens of which had been completely removed, a condition called aphakia. Through this lens-less eye, Monet could see deep into the blue spectrum, and perhaps into the ultraviolet range, which is usually obscured by the lens of the normal eye.

Monet was “only an eye - yet what an eye!” - Paul Cezanne. 

What handicapped Monet from full perception of normal vision, provided him with a perspective that perhaps no other artist ever had. Similarly in the field of music, Ludwig von Beethoven made his greatest compositions when he was already completely deaf. These two cases clearly demonstrate the hidden power of our normal senses, which we often refer to as the "inner eye" as in the case of Monet, and the "inner ear" in Beethoven. 
Monet's full color perception is dominated by red and violet in this painting (above), so with the selected paintings shown below. The interplay of light and shadow in Monet's paintings, the freshness of his colors, and freedom in his brush strokes are a clear deviation from conservative art in pre-impressionism. It was Monet who led the French school of Impressionism in painting, together with Cezanne, Pissarro, Renoir, Sisley, Manet, Degas, and other painters in the later part of the 18th century.

Acknowledgement: Internet, Wikipedia, Impressionism (Book)

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