Benesse Art Site Naoshima

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Morning Talk about Claude Monet by Ayano Hayashi: "Water Lilies in the morning sun and sweets the artist loved."

Chichu Art Museum permanently houses five works from Claude Monet's iconic "Water Lilies" series, painted by the artist in his later years. Monet was also very interested in cuisine, and he was an avid gardener and cook. Especially after moving to Giverny, France, in 1883, when he was over 40 years old, he became an avid landscaper. So impressive was his own garden, that a renowned French landscaper once remarked, "In my opinion, Monet's greatest artwork is his garden." In Monet's garden, flowers and trees of all seasons were planted, and herbs and vegetables were grown to create his favorite dishes. He even had a henhouse built at the site for fresh eggs, and procured special ingredients from local farmers. Fine cuisine was greatly important to the artist.

For the past two years, the Chichu Art Museum has invited curator Ayano Hayashi to give us fresh insight into Monet's paintings by enlightening us about different aspects of the artist's personal life. Ms. Hayashi's special interest lies in researching and introducing the culinary connection between an artist and the artist's work -- with a special focus on artists from the Impressionist period.

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Last Year's Lecture by Hayashi

Besides curating exhibitions, Hayashi writes art books as well as cookbooks, including "Monet: His Garden and Recipes," and "Vermeer's Dining Table: His Life and Recipes" (both published by Kodansha Ltd.). She started connecting the worlds of art and food because she wanted people to feel more drawn to the arts. Hayashi believes that when we learn about artists' daily lives and their tastes and preferences, we can begin to understand their artwork on a deeper level. Monet was deeply devoted to food: he collected recipes he was interested in from his friends, and he was particularly fond of ice cream which was troublesome to make before the advent of refrigerators and freezers. His notebooks, in which he kept detailed notes about his favorite dishes, are preserved at his estate in Giverny. The artist's steadfast devotion to his special interests can be also seen in the creation of his "Water Lilies" series. Monet continued to paint the same motif over and over for more than 25 years, even as his eyesight deteriorated, and right up to the time of his death.

As mentioned above, when we see artists from a different angle, and get to know who they really were, we may come to view their artwork differently. We tend to think of Monet only as a great painter, but when we see him as an ordinary person like ourselves, we can enjoy his artwork in a new way, understanding his passions and personal interests. Focusing on the food that the artist enjoyed reveals not only characteristics of the local area and customs of his day, but also the artist's own lifestyle and tastes, Hayashi says.

On the early morning of February 12th, 2017 (Sunday), before the Chichu Art Museum opens, participants are invited to Hayashi's talk in the Monet room, where they can enjoy an exclusive viewing of the "Water Lilies" series. Afterwards, in the museum's Chichu cafe, overlooking the beautiful Setouchi Inland Sea from on high, guests will be served a specially 'curated' dessert plate inspired by Monet's recipes.

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The Claude Monet Special Dessert Plate, offered at the Morning Talk
(Warm chocolate cake drawn from Monet's own Gâteau au Chocolat recipe; fruit pound cake inspired by the artist's palette; pistachio ice cream from his Green Cake recipe; and apple tart, one of his favorites)

This is a great opportunity to become more deeply acquainted with Claude Monet. We hope you will join us.

※The tour will be held on the morning of February 12th, 2017. It is exclusively open to guests staying at Benesse House on the evening of February 11th. Please apply for this program as an accommodation option after booking your room at Benesse house. Click here for more information.

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