Monet: Itinerant of Light by Salva Rubio
My rating: 4.5 of 5 stars
First Published: October 1st, 2017
Publisher: NBM Graphic Novels
Recommended Age: 14+
Genres & Themes: Graphic Biography, Art History, Life of a Painter, Impressionism
The life of the great French painter, one of the founders of Impressionism, is narrated in lush comic art reminiscent of his style. From the Salon des Refuses (“Salon of the Rejected”) and many struggling years without recognition, money, and yet a family to raise, all the way to great success, critically and financially, Monet pursued insistently one vision: catching the light in painting, refusing to compromise on this ethereal pursuit. It cost him dearly but he was a beacon for his contemporaries. We discover in this comics biography how he came to this vision as well as his turbulent life pursuing it.
If I was not majoring in Art History, I probably would never have thought about reading this book, but because I am and have learned about Monet’s work in one of my classes, I was very curious to read more about his life.
Especially since my course, “Introduction to Modern Art,” is a survey course, meaning that we look at more than fifty artists and over three hundred artworks in three months. So obviously, it’s all very fast and to the point.
Which means that I learned quite a lot from this graphic biography of Monet’s life. I think we all somewhat assume that successful people must be rich, but it doesn’t mean they always have been. Monet’s life, for instance, is a rollercoaster. Everything is well… there is light in his life… until darkness takes over. And repeat. Almost like a vicious circle.
All that because he was a rebel and refused to engage with the Academy as well as conform to its rules. That is admirable, seeing that the Academicians were too obsessed with the neoclassical body and historical themes.
But at the same time, it was selfish of Monet to refuse this interaction with the Academy, because he was a husband and father of many children, who needed his financial support.
Incredible illustrations. It’s even better that it’s reminiscent of Monet’s painting style, because it is like an homage to the artist. The leader of the impressionists indeed.
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