Monet: The Artist & His World

Fall/Winter Course 2019 

Step into the world of Claude Monet in this four-session course, an exploration of the artist and the dynamic era in which he lived and worked. Learn about the many places he painted–from his lush garden in Giverny to the snowy landscape of Norway, and discover why Monet (and many of his contemporaries) found such inspiration in nature. Reacquaint yourself with the Monet that you already know, and walk away with new perspectives on this beloved Impressionist master.

Timed entrance tickets to the exhibition are sold separately.


  • Saturdays, November 16 & 30, December 14, & January 11, 2:30—4 pm
  • Sharp Auditorium (Hamilton Building, Lower Level)


Register for individual sessions (via links below) or the entire course.

  • Members (available August 26): $90 full course / $25 individual sessions
  • Nonmembers (available September 2): $100 full course / $28 individual sessions
Monet's waterlilies

Monet’s Waterlilies: Seeing with the Body

November 16

The painter Paul Cézanne once said of Claude Monet: “He is only an eye, but what an eye!” Cézanne’s exclamation meant that Monet’s eye went further than any other. He thus raises the question of where an eye like Monet’s can take us; what can a painter make us “see” beyond the painted surface? Through the eye, his art appeals directly to bodily senses, causing his viewer to experience far more than merely seeing. 

Presented by James H. Rubin, PhD, professor of art history at Stony Brook, State University of New York.

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A Breath of Fresh Air: Embracing Nature in the Urban Environment

A Breath of Fresh Air: Embracing Nature in the Urban Environment

November 30

By the Impressionist era, the city of Paris had transformed. Once a dense maze of narrow medieval streets, its newly broadened boulevards, a regularized grid of building facades, and an increasing number of bustling train stations ushered the city into the modern, industrial era. What one scholar has called the “ruthless urban geography” of the 1800s in Paris, however, was a “greening up” of the city. Tree-lined avenues, private gardens, and public parks offered urban dwellers respite from the urban environment. Without having to leave the city, trains whisked Parisians off to the suburbs, where outdoor leisure along the Seine promised an escape from the built environment. Discover how Monet responded to this “green wave” with his colorful, sensitive, and inventive approaches to painting nature against the backdrop of this modern, urban context, including his adventures in gardening at Giverny. 

Presented by Molly Medakovich, PhD, art historian and Denver Art Museum teaching specialist.

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A Change of Scenery: Monet’s Travels 

A Change of Scenery: Monet’s Travels 

December 14

Among the Impressionists, Monet was perhaps the most well-traveled. Whether vacationing in France or venturing further afield, the artist–with a paintbrush in hand–found inspiration in the natural scenery and visual stimuli he encountered along the way. As we revel in Monet’s captivating images of Venice, Norway, London, the Mediterranean, and the Normandy coast, we’ll consider why Monet chose these destinations and how a change of scenery challenged his artistic practice. While he made these views his own through innovative pictorial strategies, his careful editing of the field of vision removed many signs of the emerging tourism industry. Behind these artful omissions lie a quickly changing landscape of leisure and an evolving modern notion of a return to nature.

Presented by Molly Medakovich, PhD, art historian and Denver Art Museum teaching specialist.

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Becoming Monet: Canon Formation in Impressionism and Beyond

Becoming Monet: Canon Formation in Impressionism and Beyond

January 11

How did Claude Monet’s name become synonymous with Impressionism? What factors conspired to make him the artist who most often comes to mind when we think of Impressionist art? In this session, we will consider the initial reception of the paintings of Monet and his fellow artistes indépendants (independent artists) who exhibited their work at the eight so-called Impressionist exhibitions starting in 1874. How did the virulent derision with which their work was met transform over time into praise? Using Monet – and a certain famous Leonardo portrait of a Renaissance lady – as a case study, we will learn how the reputations of art collectors, the timing of their bequests, the exposure specific collections continue to receive, and even biological phenomena play a central role in canon formation, thus establishing individual artists’ names over others. 

Presented by Giulia Bernardini, MA, art historian and instructor of humanities at the University of Colorado, Boulder.

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Person looking at YOU!

James Rubin

James H. Rubin, PhD (Harvard University) is a professor of art history and former head of department at Stony Brook, State University of New York. His numerous publications focus primarily on Gustave Courbet, Édouard Manet, and Impressionism, including: Realism and Social Vision in Courbet and Proudhon (1981), Impressionism (Art And Ideas) (1999), Impressionism and the Modern Landscape: Productivity, Technology and Urbanization from Manet to Van Gogh (2008), Mane: Initial M, Hand and Eye (2010), and How to Read an Impressionist Painting (2013). He is currently working on two forthcoming publications on Claude Monet.

A framed headshot

Molly Medakovich

Molly Medakovich is a teaching specialist for adult programs at the Denver Art Museum, with a focus on adult and college audiences and lifelong learning.  You can find her in the galleries leading a monthly Mindful Looking session, lecturing on European and American art in exhibition-related courses, or working with docents on best practices of gallery teaching. She has a PhD in eighteenth and nineteenth-century European art history and, in addition to her work at the DAM, teaches art history courses at the University of Denver.

Bernardini pointing at some paper on the street

Giulia Bernardini

Giulia Bernardini is an art historian and instructor of humanities at the University of Colorado. An Italian-American hybrid and trained actress, she enjoys experimenting with pedagogical techniques in both the classroom and the museum and is fascinated by the relationship between teaching and performance. She has had the pleasure of teaching several courses for the DAM and has also led various tours during DAM Untitled Final Fridays.