Monet Via Modem

Viewing Monet paintings on the Internet is sort of like watching Lawrence of Arabia on the TV at a Tempe sports bar. The medium is tragically inappropriate for displaying works of such subtlety and texture.

On the Phoenix Art Museum's Web site, for instance, impressionistic brush strokes and computer monitor pixels mix poorly. Monet's pond water seems muddy and his famous foliage looks faded -- who put the lily pads in the dryer? Luckily, the point of the site, www.phxart.org, is not just to preview Monet's work, but to provide an interactive supplement to the Phoenix Art Museum's new "Monet at Giverny" exhibit. And in this respect, the site is mostly successful as an introduction for newcomers to Monet's work. Those with a passing knowledge of impressionism, however, might find it a bit patronizing.

There's a Monet refresher course, a Monet time line, a history of impressionism, Monet games for the kids and a glossary of Monet-related art terms ("Studio: The place where the artist painted and stored his works"). All of which bring back memories of high school art class. And, yes, there will be a test -- but it's multiple choice and was apparently written with Valley Netizens in mind (actual sample: "While painting landscapes, Monet [a] Talked on his cell phone, [b] . . .").

In the "Monet's Market" section of the site, the Phoenix Art Museum's motivations get a bit suspect. There you'll find, first and foremost, a selection of Crabtree & Evelyn Gardeners Home and Bath Products. The connection to Monet is unclear, though I suppose the Hand Scrub with Pumice ($22) would be dandy for washing up after your morning swim in the Seine.

There are no offsite Monet links on the Phoenix Art Museum site, but those seeking a more comprehensive look at Monet's work might try the Guardian's "Virtual Monet" tour, written by Guardian art critic Adrian Searle (http://www.guardianunlimited.co.uk/monet/).

To purchase prints, the Phoenix Art Museum site says there are posters available at the exhibit. Online, try www.barewalls.com for an excellent selection of reasonably priced Monet prints.

 
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