In his Haystack series of 1969, Roy Lichtenstein integrates colourful painterly gestures with the readymade quality of screen prints. The series is based on paintings executed by French impressionist Claude Monet in the early 1900s, depicting stacks of harvest at different hours of the day.
The idea of capturing the relationship of light and colour appealed to Lichtenstein, encouraging him to pursue further variations on a single theme. See his masterful Cathedral series as another example, which draws on Monet’s Rouen Cathedral paintings.
Lichtenstein’s Haystack #2 presents a canvas populated by strategically placed dark red and black Ben Day dots. As opposed to Haystack #1, this colour combination is effectively undecipherable when the composition is monitored from a short distance.
Lichtenstein conveys a distinctly modernist perspective in his Haystacks, emphasising unmodulated picture planes and rich surface effects above all else. The static quality of Lichtenstein’s Ben Day dots stand in stark contrast to Impressionism’s aim to evoke a feeling of movement. The schematic forms and bright colours characterising this series seek to redefine the authenticity attributed to their source material. The Haystacks highlight the role seriality has had in past creations, while also proving its significance for contemporary artistic exploration.