In full bloom at the New York Botanical Garden
“I hate flowers—I paint them because they are cheaper than models and they don’t move,” Georgia O’Keefe once said. Though one suspects she didn’t actually mean it, Claude Monet took another approach, claiming that if he hadn’t become a painter, he would have pursued botany. He also differed from O’Keefe in that his feelings toward his subjects were not for their relative cost, which was of little concern to him, especially after the Parisian art market turned upward in the 1890s. Monet once paid to pave a public road so as to lessen the amount of dust on his property at Giverny, where he moved in 1883. There, he and a team of hired hands tended the flowers that were to occupy the rest of his life.
Monet’s water garden, inspired by Japanese art and the work of horticulturalist Joseph Bory Latour-Marliac, features in at least 250 of his paintings and has served, in turn, as inspiration for “Monet’s Garden” at The New York Botanical Garden. The hardy and tropical water lilies found in the reflecting pools are the main attraction of the exhibit, which runs until October 21 and will change, in part, with the weather. Throughout, visitors can view Monet’s color-stained palette, along with two of his paintings—both less arresting than his triptych at MoMA, but also more rarely seen.
There are also pictures of the Giverny of today by Elizabeth Murray, though children will likely prefer making their own at the Everett Children’s Adventure Garden. Like some kids we know, Monet favored deep pink and bright yellow water lilies, and plenty examples of both are on display behind the Enid A. Haupt Conservatory. It’s the perfect setting to play Linnea from Cristina Björk and Lena Anderson’s children’s book classic. In the story, Linnea and her companion, Mr. Bloom, realize they’re seeing flowers in a new way before sharing a picnic on the River Ru. For those of us experiencing Monet’s garden by way of the Bronx, there’s a tram tour and some crêpes in the Visitor Center Café. —Kate Guadagnino