Whether you’ve already enjoyed the beautiful Royal Academy exhibition or are not able to visit before it closes next week, this film – the latest in the current series produced by Exhibition on Screen – is essential viewing. The Royal Academy has brought together an eclectic and impressive collection of canvases that show the compelling fascination of gardens for some of the most famous names in Impressionist and Modern art. But what a gallery cannot recreate are those gardens themselves, the inspiration for these paintings. The film does just this, filling in the vital missing element as it pans luxuriantly through these very gardens – those of Monet at Argenteuil, Vetheuil and Giverny, of Max Liebermann at Wannsee, Sorolla in Madrid, Bonnard at Vernonnet, and Nolde at Seebull.
We learn the history of the revolution in gardening that took place in the 19th century, we hear from the curator, Ann Dumas, about putting the exhibition together, we hear from the curator of the Cleveland Museum in Ohio which has loaned one of Monet’s great Agapanthus canvases that make up the final, breathtaking triptych at the Royal Academy. Contemporary artists Lachlan Goudie and Tania Kovats give their take on painting the modern garden – evidence that gardens provide an enduring subject matter – and a suggest how the creative impulse for gardening and painting are in many ways alike.
An important accompaniment to the exhibition, this film gives a sense of the real gardens behind those depicted in paint. Beautifully filmed and capturing all the magic that must have inspired the artists, it is a treat for the senses.
By Kitty Hudson
’Painting the Modern Garden: Monet to Matisse’ is in cinemas now. Visit www.exhibitiononscreen.com for further details.