Image courtesy of Beyond Monet: The Immersive Experience.
What do you really know about Claude Monet? Beyond the dreamlike quality of his instantly recognizable Nymphéas (Water Lilies) series or perhaps, the more pastoral interpretations in his Les Meules (Haystacks) series? More famous now than he ever was during his lifetime, Monet is considered a leading figure in the Impressionist art movement; his work’s ubiquity across visual culture and art historical influence cannot go unnoticed.
To cap off summer in the city, audiences in Toronto are invited to Beyond Monet, an expansive, multimedia experience at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre, featuring more than 400 of the French painter’s most iconic works. Produced by Paquin Entertainment Group and JL Entertainment with Montreal’s Normal Studio at the creative helm, this experience combines music, sound effects, scenography and projection to reimagine Monet’s many cityscapes, landscapes, water lilies, poppies and sunrises—all in one space. “He's so widely known,” says Fanny Curtat, the Art History Consultant for Beyond Monet, “but there's something almost deceptive with that level of notoriety, especially when an artist is so famous that they are overlooked. This is a unique opportunity for people to not only see more facets of his work but learn more about just how radical his work was for the period. Today, we may take for granted these ‘easy’ contemplations, but they were scandalous when they were first unveiled. [Monet’s work] went on to open the door to so much, not just in terms of the progression of art history, but also in terms of subjective vision and freedom of expression.”
Certainly, a story is being told. Upon entering the Garden Gallery, visitors are greeted with a space meant to evoke Monet’s famous garden in Giverny. Panels of text read with an historical overview of pivotal moments and places in Monet’s life and career. The real experience begins once inside the Infinity Room, its oval shape designed to mimic the floor plan of Musée de l'Orangerie in Paris where Monet’s Nymphéas (Water Lilies) series was exhibited in the early 20th century (Monet was also involved in the architectural design of the gallery’s oval rooms). An original score, composed by Jean-Sébastien Coté, swells with the ebbs and flows of projected imagery and text as if to beckon viewers to journey inside the paintings. From floor to ceiling, swirling colours swathe every surface of the room. Visitors are invited to roam the space or sit in quiet contemplation as the projection weaves together Monet’s work with quotes from the painter, his colleagues and critics.
Make no mistake: the translation of Monet’s works in this “big screen” presentation isn’t directly comparable to viewing a genuine Monet painting in a gallery setting, nor is it intended to be. At the AGO, Vétheuil en été (1879) is currently on view on Level 1 in the Reuben Wells Leonard Memorial Gallery. Beyond Monet provides visitors with a unique introduction to his work, tailor-made to engage today’s visually enticed mainstream audiences.
To make it even more enticing, there’s a meaningful AGO connection to this multimedia installation. For every ticket purchased, one dollar will go towards an all-new fellowship program, the Black, Indigenous and People of Colour (BIPOC) Fellowship, to help magnify the creative vision and voices of the BIPOC community. The AGO is proud to partner with this new initiative, which will provide future funding and mentorship programs at major institutions in the cultural sector. For more information, visit www.bipocfellowship.com.
Learn more about Beyond Monet and buy your ticket before it closes October 4 by visiting the Beyond Monet website.