Claude Monet. The Japanese Footbridge. c. 1920-22
Curator, Ann Temkin: This painting of The Japanese Footbridge is one of a series from the early 1920s, which is unique in Monet's work for its palette. You have here a rather aggressive series of oranges and maroons and burgundies and golds that are really quite a departure from the creamy blues and greens and pinks of most of the water lily paintings. These are hot. These are really on fire.
The Japanese footbridge was something that Monet had built in the 1890s at the edge of the pond and it was a Japanese style curving bridge made from wood that he wanted to have to observe the pond below. Monet painted this bridge many times in a much more naturalistic fashion, and then returned to it again late in these abstractions in which you can almost not even find the bridge, you have to really look for a moment to find the forms of the bridge spanning from left to right within this frenzy of hot color. There is speculation that the trouble that he was having with cataracts led him to have distorted color perception. Shortly after these were made he did have an operation that adjusted that. Whether it's a medically caused thing, whether it's an emotionally caused thing, whether it's a formal experiment, these paintings remain quite gripping in their intensity.