claude monet

Sick of Immersive Van Gogh Already? Three Separate Companies Are Launching Competing Immersive Monet Experiences


Get ready for the Claude Monet experience. Or rather, the Claude Monet experiences.

Not one, not two, but three separate traveling immersive exhibitions based on the famed Impressionist’s paintings are currently gearing up—and one could be headed to a city near you.

Technically, the trend of turning famous art into walk-in light shows is nothing new: Van Gogh-themed shows of this nature date to 2008, and Cross Media Group staged the “Monet Experience” in Florence in 2017. Still, buoyed by the appearance of a Starry Night light show in the hit Netflix series Emily in Paris, 2021 so far has been the year of Van Gogh, with five distinct Van Gogh pop-ups competing in close to 50 spaces across the U.S., last time we counted.

Now, Monet lovers have their own palette of pop-up experiences to chose from.

First, there’s “Claude Monet: The Immersive Experience,” which has already appeared in Brussels, Barcelona, and Turin, and is currently on view in Naples, Italy. It’s slated to touch down in both Los Angeles and Chicago (as well as York in the U.K. and Hangzhou, China). General admission starts at $36.

The show is produced by Exhibition Hub and Fever, the companies behind “Van Gogh: The Immersive Experience,” which is on view in New York through October 24. (That exhibition actually prompted the New York Better Business Bureau to issue a warning to consumers that this was not Van Gogh as seen in Emily in Paris. Midnight Publishing Group News critic Ben Davis deemed it the lesser of the city’s two Van Gogh experiences.)

In terms of its attractions, “Claude Monet: The Immersive Experience” sounds very similar to “Van Gogh: The Immersive Experience.” It centers on a 35-minute light projection show digitizing 300 paintings and sketches by the artist, as well as a reproduction of Monet’s home in Giverney. Visitors can also take a 10-minute VR journey through his paintings and to places that Monet visited in his lifetime, such as London and the Netherlands. For children, there’s a “Sketch and Post” gallery where they can make drawings or complete coloring book versions of Monet paintings to add to a digital display.

Next up, there’s “Monet by the Water,” which claims to be “the world’s largest Monet experience.” It will feature over 250 paintings in an hour-long audiovisual show designed to be staged inside a five-story circus tent outfitted with 26-foot-high projection screens.

It’s produced by Ricardo Dotta and is the first project from his company MIRA, short for the Museum of Immersive Roaming Arts. The exhibition will open in San Francisco this December, and has stops planned for Minneapolis, Atlanta, Seattle, Miami, Denver, St. Louis, and Philadelphia, followed by Dotta’s home country of Brazil.

Finally, we have “Beyond Monet,” produced by Beyond Exhibitions Inc. and Normal Studio, a projection-mapping outfit in Montreal. This is the same team behind the traveling “Beyond Van Gogh: The Immersive Experience,” seen at venues from Miami to Portland, so expect the Monet version multiply soon. (It is currently on view in Toronto.)

“Beyond Monet” promises 400 paintings, including Impression: Sunrise and works from the “Haystacks” and “Water Lilies” series, in a 36-minute show displayed across 50,000 square feet, plus an original score. The three-part show is spread across the “Garden Gallery,” “The Prism,” and “The Infinity Room,” an oval-shaped space inspired by the presentation of Monet’s work in two elliptical spaces at the Musée de l’Orangerie in Paris that the artist specifically designed for a cycle of seven monumental “Water Lilies” canvases.

"The Water Lilies" by Claude Monet at Musée de l'Orangerie, Paris. Photo courtesy of the Musée de l'Orangerie, Paris.

“The Water Lilies” by Claude Monet at Musée de l’Orangerie, Paris. Photo courtesy of the Musée de l’Orangerie, Paris.

Lending the experience a modicum of academic respectability, both “Beyond Van Gogh” and “Beyond Monet” engaged Montreal art historian Fanny Curtat as a consultant. And while critics have questioned the immersive Van Gogh trend given the artist’s well-documented struggles with depression and mental illness, the leisure-loving Monet may be a better fit for the immersive treatment.

Monet had a vision of a room filled wall-to-wall with his water lily canvases, which he produced at enormous scale. “Carried along the length of the walls, enveloping the entire interior with its unity, it would produce the illusion of an endless whole, of a watery surface with no horizon and no shore,” Monet wrote to the art critic Claude Roger-Marx in 1909, in a passage noted the Toronto Star in its “Beyond Monet” review.

In an interview with Frenchly, “Monet on the Water” impresario Ricardo Dotta also emphasized that the experience was true to its inspiration. “[Monet] was basically a pioneer for immersion. He wanted to put people inside his amazing art,” he said. “In a small way, we are continuing his work.”

See more photos from the three shows below.

"Beyond Monet" in Toronto. Photo courtesy of Paquin Entertainment Group.

“Beyond Monet” in Toronto. Photo courtesy of Paquin Entertainment Group.

"Beyond Monet" in Toronto. Photo courtesy of Paquin Entertainment Group.

“Beyond Monet” in Toronto. Photo courtesy of Paquin Entertainment Group.

"Beyond Monet" in Toronto. Photo courtesy of Paquin Entertainment Group.

“Beyond Monet” in Toronto. Photo courtesy of Paquin Entertainment Group.

"Beyond Monet" in Toronto. Photo courtesy of Paquin Entertainment Group.

“Beyond Monet” in Toronto. Photo courtesy of Paquin Entertainment Group.

"Monet: The Immersive Experience" in Brussels. Photo courtesy of Exhibition Hub and Fever.

“Monet: The Immersive Experience” in Brussels. Photo courtesy of Exhibition Hub and Fever.

"Monet: The Immersive Experience" in Brussels. Photo courtesy of Exhibition Hub and Fever.

“Monet: The Immersive Experience” in Brussels. Photo courtesy of Exhibition Hub and Fever.

"Monet: The Immersive Experience" in Brussels. Photo courtesy of Exhibition Hub and Fever.

“Monet: The Immersive Experience” in Brussels. Photo courtesy of Exhibition Hub and Fever.

"Monet: The Immersive Experience" in Brussels. Photo courtesy of Exhibition Hub and Fever.

“Monet: The Immersive Experience” in Brussels. Photo courtesy of Exhibition Hub and Fever.

"Monet: The Immersive Experience" in Brussels. Photo courtesy of Exhibition Hub and Fever.

“Monet: The Immersive Experience” in Brussels. Photo courtesy of Exhibition Hub and Fever.

"Monet: The Immersive Experience" in Brussels. Photo courtesy of Exhibition Hub and Fever.

“Monet: The Immersive Experience” in Brussels. Photo courtesy of Exhibition Hub and Fever.

"Monet by the Water." Photo courtesy of MIRA, the Museum of Immersive Roaming Arts.

“Monet by the Water.” Photo courtesy of MIRA, the Museum of Immersive Roaming Arts.

"Monet by the Water." Photo courtesy of MIRA, the Museum of Immersive Roaming Arts.

“Monet by the Water.” Photo courtesy of MIRA, the Museum of Immersive Roaming Arts.

"Monet by the Water." Photo courtesy of MIRA, the Museum of Immersive Roaming Arts.

“Monet by the Water.” Photo courtesy of MIRA, the Museum of Immersive Roaming Arts.

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Sotheby’s $221.3 Million Impressionist and Modern Sale Was Solid, But Proves the True Market Fireworks Are Elsewhere


Sotheby’s Impressionist and Modern art evening sale capped off a marathon night that saw collectors welcomed back to its New York salesroom for the first time in over a year.

The offering of 33 lots (one was withdrawn just prior to the sale) pulled in a solid total of $221.3 million, just under the original high estimate of $222.8 million. (The estimate was revised downward after the withdrawal, to $166.9 million–219.3 million.) Of the lots offered, 31, or 94 percent, found buyers.

These final results belied uneven appetites. Aside from intense competition for a handful of star lots, particularly from Asian buyers, the action was unpredictable. Certain works sold far below their estimates, suggesting some reserves had been lowered in the lead-up to the sale due to lackluster interest. (Unless otherwise stated, final prices include auction-house premiums; presale estimates do not.) 

The top lot of the evening, Claude Monet’s Le Bassin aux nymphéas (1917–19), sold for $70.3 million, well over its estimate of around $40 million. That’s more than four times the $16.8 million price it made at Sotheby’s in May 2004. This time around, the work went to a client of specialist Gregoire Billault in New York after fierce competition from Hong Kong. It is now the fifth priciest Monet ever sold at auction.

Art law specialist Thomas Danziger represented clients from the estate of Philadelphia philanthropist Tristram Colket, an heir to the Campbell’s soup fortune, who consigned four major works to the sale

Danziger summed up the mood, telling Midnight Publishing Group News: “Generally good sale results, but hard to square the selling price of a spectacular Cézanne with the price achieved by a Bitcoin Banksy.” (He was referencing a $12.9 million Banksy in the contemporary sale that evening, which more than doubled its $5 million high estimate and marked the first time that Sotheby’s said it would accept cryptocurrency as a form of payment for a physical work.)

Paul Cezanne, Nature morte pommes et poires (Circa 1888-90). Image courtesy Sotheby's.

Paul Cézanne, Nature morte pommes et poires (Circa 1888–90). Image courtesy Sotheby’s.

Two of Colket’s works, which did not carry guarantees, hammered below or near their low estimates. A Cézanne still life, Nature morte: pommes et poires (circa 1888-1890), sold for $19.9 million with premium, far short of its published $25 million to $35 million estimate.

The muted reception was similar for Colket’s Degas dancer, Danseuse (circa 1880–87), which sold for a hammer price of $10 million—exactly the low estimate—to a Sotheby’s specialist in London. Of the final two Colket works (both Monets), a landscape failed to sell and a floral still life sailed past its $6 million high estimate to fetch $10 million.

One of the rare works that sparked protracted bidding was Picasso’s Femme assise en costume vert (1953), a portrait of the artist’s lover and mother of two of his children, Françoise Gilot. Sotheby’s Asia chairman Patty Wong won it on behalf of a client for $20.9 million with premium. 

Amedeo Modigliani, <i>Jeune fille assise, les cheveux dénoués (Jeune fille en bleu)</i> (1919). Image courtesy Sotheby's.

Amedeo Modigliani, Jeune fille assise, les cheveux dénoués (Jeune fille en bleu) (1919). Image courtesy Sotheby’s.

Toward the end of the sale, the intensity picked up again for a painting by Diego Rivera, Retrato de Columba Dominguez de Fernandez (1950). The final price with premium was $7.4 million, far above the $2 million to $3 million estimate.

Another notable element of the evening was the structure of guarantees—including the volume that Sotheby’s fronted itself and then farmed out to third parties to offload some of the risk. A week prior to the sale, just one of 10 guaranteed lots was backed by an outside bidder. That figure rose to 11 out of a total of 14 guaranteed lots by the time the sale kicked off on Wednesday.

Pablo Picasso, <i>Femme assise en costume vert</i> (1953). Image courtesy Sotheby's.

Pablo Picasso, Femme assise en costume vert (1953). Image courtesy Sotheby’s.

One of the works that secured a guarantee in the run-up to the sale was Amedeo Modigliani’s Jeune fille assise, les cheveux dénoués (Jeune fille en blue), which carried an estimate of $15 million to $20 million. It hammered for $14 million after protracted competition between two specialists, including Helena Newman in London, for whom it was almost breakfast time as the sale came to a close.  

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