When we think of the French Impressionist Claude Monet, we often think of his vibrant and colorful landscapes that capture the fleeting moments of light and atmosphere. However, in his later years, Monet became increasingly interested in the subtle and muted beauty of the natural world. One of his most iconic series from this period is the Blue Water Lilies, a collection of paintings that embody the wabi-sabi aesthetic.
Wabi-sabi is a Japanese concept that celebrates the imperfect, impermanent, and incomplete. It embraces the beauty of natural materials, the passage of time, and the cycles of growth and decay. In Monet’s Blue Water Lilies, we can see all of these elements at play.
First, there is the use of color. Instead of the bold and bright hues of his earlier work, Monet chose a palette of soft blues, purples, and greens to depict the water lilies floating on the pond. These colors blend and bleed into each other, creating a sense of movement and fluidity. They also convey a sense of tranquility and calm, as if the viewer is gazing upon a peaceful scene in nature.
Second, there is the use of texture. Monet’s brushstrokes are loose and gestural, creating a sense of spontaneity and vitality. At the same time, they are also delicate and nuanced, capturing the intricate details of the water lilies and the reflections in the water. The overall effect is one of texture and depth, as if the viewer could reach out and touch the painting.
Finally, there is the sense of impermanence and incompleteness. The Blue Water Lilies are part of a larger series that Monet worked on for over a decade, and each painting captures a different moment in time. Some show the flowers in full bloom, while others depict them wilting and fading away. This sense of transience is further emphasized by the lack of a clear horizon line or sense of perspective. Instead, the painting seems to dissolve into the infinite expanse of the sky, reminding us of the endless cycle of birth and death in the natural world.
In conclusion, Monet’s Blue Water Lilies embody the wabi-sabi aesthetic in their use of color, texture, and impermanence. They remind us of the beauty that can be found in the simple and the fleeting, and invite us to contemplate the deeper mysteries of the natural world. As we gaze upon these paintings, we are reminded that true beauty is not found in perfection or completion, but in the imperfections and incompleteness of life itself.