I really fancy the new Monet exhibition at the National Gallery. When I was last there, an assistant told me that there were going to be seventy five paintings on display, which is quite a lot of Monet. As are the ticket prices, currently being listed as £22 for non-members over the weekend (It’s cheaper during the week, but not much) although members (typically) go free. Clearly, the Gallery intend to make a bit of money out of it, given how popular Monet is.
Once I’d recovered from the shock, I reflected on how I would feel when tickets go on sale for the Van Gogh exhibition at the Tate next year – that will be another popular one, I expect. I know I baulked at paying £10 for Georgia O’Keeffe at Tate Modern, but (a) I don’t really like Georgia O’Keeffe very much and (b) I detest the Tate Modern. I don’t like Tate Britain much either – it’s very badly organised – but the exhibition spaces are wonderful. Besides which, I would happily pay twice that amount to see Van Gogh’s British paintings.
People are saying that one thing which has to be remembered with this Monet exhibition is the number of paintings being made available – and that many of them have never been seen together. This was the same argument used by the Royal Academy when they had a room full of his Water Lilies – four of which took up entire walls. It really was overwhelming to see, but easily justified the entrance fee, which I think was about £20, and that was over ten years ago.
I suppose the question isn’t really whether £22 is a lot of money to see seventy five Monets, but whether I like Monet enough to pay £22 to see seventy five of them. I’m not sure I do. He’s not Van Gogh, after all.