Claude Oscar Monet was born on November 14th, 1840 in Paris, France but grew up and studied drawing and art in Le Havre. At the age of 19, he had committed himself to becoming an artist and spent more and more time in Paris. From the beginning, Monet's style had been unconventional and later became famous for his transient effects of natural light and his sketch-like application of bright colors on the canvas. In 1862, Monet entered the studio of Charles Gleyre in Paris where he first made acquaintance with Renoir, Sisley, and Bazille, with whom he was to form the nucleus of the next great art movement. Later, in an attempt to appeal directly to the public, Monet and some of his colleagues organized an exhibition and called themselves the "independents",but because of the nature of their paintings looking ˜unfinished and sketchy" their group became known as the "impressionists" since their paintings looked like a first impression and since one of Monet's painting had the title Impression: Sunrise.
The Waterlily Pond, 1900
oil on canvas, 89 x 92 cm.
During the next twenty years, Monet would perfect his signature distinct strokes, loosely structured paintings, which gave the viewer a spontaneous impression of nature. Monet even made trips to the coasts of France in order to study the brilliant effects of light and color to incorporate them more accurately for a more refined expression in his paintings. In 1890, Monet bought some property in the village of Giverny near Paris and constructed a water garden, a lily pond arched with a Japanese bridge and overhung with willows and clumps of bamboo. From this point forward, Monet's paintings mostly consisted of this pond and water lilies.


Claude Monet, a father of the impressionist art movement, has influenced many other painters of the 20th century and his Water lilies paintings have especially impacted abstract paintings of the century. Monet's philosophy for painting has been to "forget what objects you have before you--a tree, a house, a field, or whatever. Merely think, here is a little square of blue, here an oblong of pink, here a streak of yellow, and paint it just as it looks to you, the exact color and shape..." This idea of shapes and colors representing a figure without actually drawing the figure is what has made the principal behind abstract painting. It allows for each individual viewer to see something different in the painting. Without something definitive or concrete in the painting, the viewer is forced to manipulate the colors and shapes and arguably Monet and the impressionists lead the way for abstract painters from the latter 20th century. Monet once said "I wished I had been born blind and then had suddenly gained my sight so that I could have begun to paint in this way without first knowing what the objects were that I saw before me...." To the eye, there are only masses of color and shape, and inconstant colors and shapes at that, changing as the light changes, changing as our angle of vision changes: this is what made Monet's water lilies a gateway for abstract artwork.
Waterlily Pond, 1918
Monet has long been an advocate of abandoning the studio and painting on the spot ”sur le motif” and was brilliantly successful in achieving the impression of a fresh view of nature, in creating on his canvas the spontaneous and transient light and color of the moment. The main similarity between the abstract painting of the 20th century and the impressionist paintings is that the impression on the viewer's eye, the visual sensation, is what guides the artists' brush and what evokes the emotion in the viewer. In my opinion, what makes the Water lilies so beautiful is the fact that the thickness of the paint in certain areas, along with the changing color tones allows for many paintings to lie inside just one painting. Different angles and different lighting all affects the painting in a certain way. Monet's paintings seem to instill powerful imagery that a viewer feels a mystical or spiritual tranquility when viewing his water lilies. In this similar way, abstract painting also creates a mystical feeling where each viewer manipulates the shapes and colors in their own way making the painting rather unique for each.