Tuesday, Jan. 26, 2010

Monet's Rage of Perfectionism

The work had already been garlanded with praise by critics and friends. Ads had been published. The exhibition, set for May 1908, would feature the newest works from celebrated painter Claude Monet, the fruits of three years of labor. Nevertheless, when the French Impressionist took one final look, he determined the paintings weren't good enough. Amid protests, the 68-year-old Monet took to the paintings — worth $100,000 in 1908 — with a knife and a paint brush, defacing them irrevocably. Ethics discussions broke out: Should an artist have the right to destroy his own work? At least one expert thought so and praised him for being a true artist rather than a manufacturer, telling the New York Times, "It is a pity, perhaps, that some other painters do not do the same."