Cover image of the review
Monet & Friends, The Lume, 2023. Photo: Luke Smythe

Monet & Friends

27 May 2023
The Lume 26 Oct - 4 Jun 2023

Since its Covid-delayed opening last year, digital exhibition space The Lume has welcomed more than 700,000 visitors. Its inaugural offering, Van Gogh (known also as Van Gogh Alive), tapped into the endless public appetite for all things colourful, creative, and out of copyright from late nineteenth-century France. This year’s sequel, Monet & Friends, offers more of the same fare, plunging viewers into a forty-minute animated mélange of work by Monet and a dozen related artists, synced up to a mega-mix of classical music favourites from the period. It is, however, no mere AV light show, for it is also suffused by its own scent, intended (according to a wall text) to transport visitors “to the lush gardens, mountain slopes, and spreading landscapes, where the Impressionists painted their timeless masterpieces.” Add to this peripheral attractions, like a life-size simulacrum of Monet’s footbridge at Giverny, an art studio with a video tutorial, in which one can draw the footbridge for oneself, and a simulated Paris café, from which one can view the action en terrasse, and it is evident that Monet & Friends owes as much to theme parks and Las Vegas as it does to more venerable institutions like the Gesamtkunstwerk, with which its source material was contemporary. While its pedigree is evident, its purpose is more difficult to fathom, in large part because its organisers appear to be unsure of their own goals and may indeed have chosen the wrong medium with which to pursue them.

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