I love art museums and can spend hours in one. Here's something I've learned over time. Don't skip the audio tour. For every piece of art that has moved me, I've found it's backstory to be even more interesting and provocative. The audio tour gives you the backstory. It places you right in the middle of the action.
For instance, here's one of Monet's paintings that had me at hello. It’s called "Women in the Garden". You'll never guess it’s backstory
It's a beautiful painting, no doubt. The ladies in their summer gowns, the greenery, the play of light and shadow, and the leisurely atmosphere it creates...it's all quite lovely. And it draws you IN.
But that's not why I love it. Here's why.
When you look at it, you imagine this is a scene the artist might have observed. Or in the least, a scene he had staged with models, as was the practice at the time.
Quite the opposite.
Monet made this painting in the backyard of a dingy apartment in Paris. He was all of 26 and really poor. He had no money to buy canvases, let alone stage a scene. There were creditors on his back!
Yet, here he was, making this ambitious 70 x 70 inch painting.
His companion Camille modeled for all three female figures. Since he had no money to re-dress her, he copied the dress designs from fashion plates of the time. And he created a trench in the backyard of his small apartment, so he could lower himself and not lose perspective, when working on the lower half of the painting.
He had little then, yet made a masterpiece.
Today it sits in one of the most respected art galleries IN THE WORLD. Musee d’Orsay.
Now scroll back up and observe the painting again. Makes you see it in a whole new light, doesn’t it? :)