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Planographic print, 1969
Signed Print Edition of 100
H 34cm x W 60cm
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Toni Clayton, American Pop & Modern Specialist
Roy Lichtenstein is known for boldly addressing hierarchical notions pinning high art against low art. His Haystack series of 1969 was inspired by French impressionist Claude Monet’s influential Haystack paintings of the early 1900s. The same year Lichtenstein also finalised his masterful Cathedral series, based on Monet’s portrayal of the Rouen Cathedral.
Examining the art historical context of his source material in depth, Lichtenstein abstracts the iconic haystack motif, translating it into the visual language of Pop Art. His Haystacks replace Monet’s loose brushstrokes with his hand-painted signature Ben Day dots. The artist integrates colourful painterly gestures with the readymade quality of screen prints. In doing so, Lichtenstein seeks to parallel the objective of the original impressionist paintings, which was to examine the relationship between colour and light.
Therefore, Haystack #1’s colour scheme is yellow, representing an early morning depiction of a hayfield. Lichtenstein leaves room for the white background to peek through between the soft yellow dots, allowing for the contours of the main haystack in the centre to assemble.
The work presents a calculated commentary on art history’s claim that mechanical reproduction is devoid of originality. In fact, the Haystack prints exhibit images that are in essence purer than their reference material, seeing as they are controlled through their medium.