Roy Lichtenstein’s 1969 Haystack series is a colourful interpretation of French impressionist Claude Monet’s Haystack paintings of 1891. The small loose brushstrokes characterising Monet’s paintings are in this series substituted by calculated Ben Day dots.
The exactness of these hand-painted dots differs greatly from the unfinished and spontaneous qualities of impressionist brushwork. Their static quality stands in stark contrast to Impressionism’s aim to evoke a feeling of movement. The resulting images present a post-war, comic book aesthetic, which is consistent with modernism’s emphasis on flat picture planes.
Similar to Haystack #3, Haystack #4 manipulates its colour scheme progressively, making its red and blue pattern appear dark purple when considered from a distance. Monet used light and colour to create dramatic alterations in the depictions of his haystacks. Lichtenstein on the other hand minimises light and relies entirely on colours, abstracting the image so much that it becomes obscured. Alluding to the passing of time, Haystack #4 applies dark pigments to portray the stack of harvest at nighttime.
The schematic forms and bright colours characterising the prints in this series seek to redefine the idolised status of their source material. The Haystacks highlight the role seriality has had in past creations, while also proving its significance for contemporary artistic exploration.