The show includes one beautiful painting after another. It starts with the foundational work of realists such as Corot and Courbet and quickly shifts to the pioneering work of the impressionists, including Alfred Sisley, Camille Pissarro and Berthe Morisot. And there's a section devoted to American followers of the French-based movement, including a stunning John Twachtman. All of these artists have done marvelous landscapes, but Monet is the undeniable star of Nature as Muse, with many of his paintings included. In fact, there are eleven Monets in Passport to Paris — an unprecedented number for Denver — and eight of them are paintings, with all but two of those in Nature as Muse.

Of course, all of the Monets are worth looking at, but some are just over the top and remind us of why he was so key to the later development of abstraction. "Fishing Boats" is really something, with the line of colorfully painted boats beached on the shoreline. The technique is spectacular, with each pictorial element containing a dense mass of short, heavily paint-laden brushstrokes. The DAM's masterpiece, "Waterloo Bridge, Sunlight Effect," has been exhibited frequently over the years, but in the context of all these other Monets, its character as a masterwork is very apparent. The bridge is a purple apparition running across the middle of the picture, with the lighter sky and water bracketing it at the top and bottom. Attempting to capture mist in paint, Monet allows the bridge, the river and the town beyond it to disintegrate in a sea of tiny marks and gestures. If you don't like this painting, maybe painting isn't your thing.

When I went through Passport to Paris last week, the place was mobbed. Then again, the DAM knows that it's easy to attract a crowd when you put the word "Paris" in an exhibition's title.

Location Info


Denver Art Museum

100 W. 14th Ave. Parkway
Denver, CO 80204

Category: Art Galleries

Region: Central Denver


Through February 9 at the Denver Art Museum, 100 West 14th Avenue Parkway, 720-865-5000,

Passport to Paris

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