Is MFA Boston’s Monet Kimonos Dress Up Event An Insensitive Racist Outrage?

The Museum of Fine Arts Boston has cancelled their programme which allowed museum-goers to dress up in kimonos inspired by the well known Claude Monet painting in their collection, depicting the artist’s wife wearing the garment . The Museum has now apologised and stopped the popular event which caused demonstrations and was seen to be insensitive.

Monet exhibited this iconic work at the second group show of the Impressionist painters in 1876, where it attracted much attention. Large-scale figure paintings had traditionally been considered the most significant challenge for an artist. Using this format, Monet created a virtuoso display of brilliant color that is also a witty comment on the current Paris fad for all things Japanese. The woman shown wrapped in a splendid kimono and surrounded by fans is Monet’s wife, Camille, wearing a blond wig to emphasize her Western identity.

The answer to the question raised in the title of this article is NO! We actually sees this as political correctness gone wrong and a misinterpretation of the time and history that inspired this painting. This is a celebration of the beauty of Japan not an event mocking Japanese culture. The museum has now pulled down all references to the event off of their website. 

Photo: Courtesy MFA Boston all rights reserved


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