First presented at the Musée de l’Orangerie in Paris as part of the Monet – Clemenceau collection focus, Claude Monet: The Water Lily Obsession continues to be a key experience to understand VR.
It all started in 1883, when painter Claude Monet first rented a house in the French town of Giverny. After purchasing the property and adjoining land, the artist transformed an existing small pond into a water garden with water lilies and a Japanese-style bridge from which he could observe the water and the flowers.
“Beyond painting and gardening, I’m good for nothing…” Claude Monet famously said. Although these words may bring a smile to our lips today, the Water Lilies cycle, almost 250 paintings that the Impressionist painter produced from life in his garden in Giverny is admirable proof that he was in fact not only a genius in painting, but also an excellent observer of nature and the garden that he had created at his home in Giverny.
In 1883 painter Claude Monet first rented a house in the French town of Giverny. After purchasing the property and adjoining land, the artist transformed an existing small pond into a water garden with water lilies and a Japanese-style bridge from which he could observe the water and the flowers. From 1899 to 1926, Monet painted more than 250 scenes devoted to the water lily theme, which became what he himself called “an obsession.”
Claude Monet’s obsessional work
Now, you’ve probably seen examples of Monet’s paintings, and his water lilies, but this is a completely new perspective into his works, thanks to Virtual Reality. Since I was first introduced to the VR experience Claude Monet, The Water Lily Obsession, I continue to return to it with the same excitement I felt the first time. When I want to impress someone sharing with them my collection of Virtual Reality titles, this is one of the first, many times the first title I will choose to impress them.
It can be a frightening experience when you watch the water enter the exhibition hall you’re in, but that’s just a trick to gain your attention, as you’re then transported to the gardens Claude Monet tended, and from there follow the path of the painter through the thirty years of his life devoted to painting the water lilies. A colossal and obsessional work that cost the artist his view, the project remains, to this day, an intimate discovery of the famous pond hosting lily pads in the painter’s garden at Giverny, in the Normandy region.
Monet’s research on the effects of light, his desire to express his sensations lead him to dilute the forms and gradually move away from a realistic representation of the world. The VR experience takes the viewers to Giverny and plunges them into the very heart of Monet’s work, in his eyes troubled by the loss of sight, in a whirlwind of colors. An immersive and sensory experience in this unique work, the VR experience was directed by Nicolas Thépot, with original music from George Lepauw (International Beethoven Project).
Explore time and space
Inspired by the panels of Claude Monet’s Water Lilies cycle exhibited at the Musée de l’Orangerie in Paris, the VR experience is co-produced by ARTE France, Lucid Realities, Camera lucida productions, Musées d’Orsay Et de L’Orangerie and Gebrueder Beetz Filmproduktion, and is available both on Steam and Vive platforms for a price of $2.99, a price that will give you access to Monet’s gardens and to a contemplative VR experience narrated by Geoffrey Bateman (Claude Monet) and Peter Hudson (Georges Clémenceau).
Through the dialogue between Claude Monet and his old friend, stateman George Clémenceau, this contemplative VR experience invites the user on a sensory journey starting off in Claude Monet’s garden, stopping along the way at the workshop of the artist and ending in the exhibition rooms of the Musée de l’Orangerie. The user is given the opportunity to relive a perpetual renewal of nature, to explore time and space while immersed in the Water lilies paintings.
For almost 30 years until his death, Monet returned again and again to Giverny to paint this theme as the seasons changed, producing these gigantic decorative panels now mounted on the walls of the Musée de l’Orangerie and promised to France as a symbol of victory through the intermediary of a friend from his youth, Georges Clemenceau, on 12 November 1918, more than a century ago.
The VR experience, ‘Claude Monet – The Water Lily obsession’ has been shown for four months at the Musée de l’Orangerie – from 14 November 2018 to 11 March 2019 – and has won the Vive Developer Award for the Best Arts & Culture Experience, a Silver Muse Award at the American Alliance of Museums 2019, a special mention from the jury at the ARTFIFA 2019 and the Grand Prix PiXii at the Sunny Side of the Doc 2019, and it continues to receive awards wherever it is shown.
Needs a high-spec computer
This experience is the first episode of the Arte Trips collection, an immersive series in major works of art, co-produced by ARTE. It is available in YouTube as a 360 video, which will give you a taste of the experience. But if you’ve a PCVR headset and a computer able to run the title, then Claude Monet, The Water Lily Obsession is another VR title to add to your library. It is a nice companion to the experiences suggested here at ProVideo Coalition in previous weeks, ranging from The Scream to The Isle of the Dead, or Il Divino: Michelangelo’s Sistine Ceiling in VR.
Claude Monet, The Water Lily Obsession is available from Steam or Viveport platforms and compatible with Valve Index and HTC Vive VR headsets as well as Windows Mixed Reality or Oculus, those through SteamVR. Be aware that sometimes the software is prone to not run perfectly, with low frame rates, audio problems and other issues, especially in low-spec machines, and there is no information about any update from the developers. Still, when all works as it should, it’s a great experience, believe me.