Published

Reverie in l’Orangerie

Monet’s Water Lilies are one of very few works of art that have physically overwhelmed me on viewing. The life-sized canvases are entirely mesmerising, ‘no sky, no horizon, hardly any perspective or stable points of reference enabling the viewer to orient himself…’.

The first room in 1930 © Albert Harlingue / Roger-Viollet, via the Museum

The intimacy is heightened further by their 360 degree installation in the two sequential oval rooms of Musée de l’Orangerie. On entering the second room, we found ourselves entirely alone – due to pandemic-related travel restrictions. The deserted room was an unexpected gift and truer to the artist’s original intent for the viewer:

Those with nerves exhausted by work would relax there, following the restful example of those still waters, and, to whoever entered it, the room would provide a refuge of peaceful meditation in the middle of a flowering aquarium.

Claude Monet, 1909

Published

Oudolf Field

We have wanted to visit Oudolf Field for awhile and last weekend made it happen. During lockdown we’d primed ourselves with Five Seasons: The Gardens of Piet Oudolf, but nothing compares to the real thing.

The Oudolf Field is masterfully planted, taking into account colour, shape, texture and height to frame nature as both sculpture and theatrical performance. Time congeals in the garden, as if its entrance is a portal to an over-cranked film. Bodies parade in slow motion to find every vantage point and appreciate every contrast. The best part is that nature takes no pause. I look forward to returning in autumn, winter and spring.

Over the course of his gardening practice, Piet Oudolf has developed an informal, but intricately detailed, approach to planning. Colour and pattern, seemingly haphazard, enables an agility in application. His hand-drawn sketches are beautiful objects in their own right, appealing to any graphic designer that is seduced by intelligent, orderly systems.