by Chadd Scott
Last updated: 4:00 PM ET, Mon January 6, 2020
Standing before the Christmas tree at Rockefeller Center. Viewing Paris from the Eiffel Tower. Shopping on Rodeo Drive.
A unique combination of sensations-awe, bewilderment, glee-overcome travelers when first experiencing an endlessly dreamt about "bucket list" moment. Having seen them depicted in movies, television shows and books as far back as memory allows, to see with your own eyes, to place yourself physically into that scene which previously existed only in imagination, creates lifelong memories.
The same sensation exists with art.
Finding yourself in front of one of the world's greatest paintings for the first time, an image you've seen replicated countless times in two dimensions, suddenly find yourself inches away from the canvas in three dimensions sends chills down the spine.
Images like Monet's Japanese footbridge. His haystacks. His waterlilies.
All of which can be seen now through February 2, 2020 at the Denver Art Museum during its historic exhibit, Claude Monet: The Truth of Nature. The show represents the most comprehensive U.S. exhibition of Monet paintings in over two decades featuring more than 120 paintings.
"Seeing art in person is a wonderful experience that no high-resolution reproduction or image can substitute," Angelica Daneo, chief curator at the Denver Art Museum and curator of Claude Monet: The Truth of Nature, said. "No work, other than the original artwork, can truly evoke the emotional response one can experience in the presence of real art."
This proves particularly true with Monet.
Up close, the artist's hand becomes readily apparent. Trace his brushstrokes with your eyes and put yourself in the master's shoes painting en plein air in and around Paris. Feel the sun on the back of your neck.
Remark at the quickness of Monet's brush as he captures fleeting atmospheric moments.
Observe how his wet-on-wet style of painting-not allowing underneath layers of paint to fully dry before painting over them-creates in some of his work what appears to be an allover crust of paint obscuring the hundreds of individual brushstrokes which built it. This quality is unique to Monet.
"A work of art is in a way a time capsule that brings us back in the presence of an artist, looking directly at what the artist was seeing and creating, the brushstrokes, the texture and the marks on the canvas," Daneo said.
The exhibit leads visitors on an easy-to-follow chronological journey through Monet's entire career with destinations he painted across Europe. As the most well-traveled of the Impressionist group, Monet trained his eye on London, Venice, the Normandy Coast and the Netherlands, in addition to his familiar Paris and Giverny, France.
You'll see all of them here in addition to lesser-known paintings of the Mediterranean including Bordighera, Italy and Antibes, France. These sun-splashed pictures capture the ravishing allure of the French and Italian Riviera which captivate to this day.
Monet captured all of these locations with nuance.
"Claude Monet was a very keen observer, able to grasp the subtle chromatic nuances of nature," Daneo said. "Snow was never white to him as fog was never gray."
Paul Cézanne famously said of his contemporary's artistic gifts, Monet "is only an eye, but my god, what an eye!"
Works on display include View from Rouelles, the first painting Monet exhibited in 1858 when he was 18-years-old, through The House Seen through the Roses, a 1926 painting completed in Giverny months before his death.
Major lenders include the Musée d'Orsay and Musée Marmottan Monet, Paris; Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; The Art Institute of Chicago and the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Work came from as far away as Japan and out of numerous private collections. This exhibit takes visitors on a world tour for the best of Monet's paintings.
Art lovers visiting Denver will enjoy a stay at the Kimpton Hotel Born. Nearly 700 pieces of original or limited edition artwork from dozens of local artists greet visitors throughout the stylish, modern property which was opened in August of 2017.
Connected to Denver's Union Station train station, Kimpton Hotel Born allows for easy transit to and from Denver International Airport with unlimited restaurant and nightlife opportunities steps from the check-in desk throughout the city's bustling LoDo (Lower Downtown) district.
If a winter trip to Colorado is incomplete for you without a few downhill runs, take a day trip to Breckenridge. Shuttle service from Union Station to Breck will have you shredding fresh powder in just over two hours. Forget lugging bags, you can rent equipment there, not only skis, but hats, gloves, jackets-the entire ensemble.
With 187 trails across almost 3,000 skiable acres, Breckenridge is one of the largest mountains in North America providing plenty of terrain for all levels of expertise while keeping crowding down.
In town, charming local restaurants (Briar Rose for happy hour) and bars (Broken Compass is the craft brewery of your dreams) welcome visitors without the pretension (or expense) of Aspen and Vail.
Last season was a banner year for snow in Colorado and this year is already shaping up to be even better. All that snow, makes you wonder how Monet might have painted it.
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