Some years ago I was very struck by this Monet in Chicago. It is beautifully ordinary – the subject, the treatment – a kind of bland, unassuming realism. I thought of Harold
Bloom’s description of Wordsworth, whose use of ordinary language in poetry is so original and influential that it can hardly be seen any more. It’s too big to be visible. Monet is not such a revolutionary, because he owes a lot to Corot and other French plein-air painters, but I think it’s still hard to connect with the poetry of this work, very moving and apparently so conventional. Abstraction acknowledges late Monet, but is it possible to work backwards to this as an origin? I think one of the most interesting questions for art history are the realist sources of abstraction. A few thoughts on the topic here.