Roy Lichtenstein repeatedly referenced various artists and schools of art historical thought over the course of his career. He boldly addressed hierarchical notions pinning originality in opposition to reproduction and high art against low art.
In 1969, Lichtenstein produced a sequence of prints paraphrasing impressionist Claude Monet's Haystack paintings of 1891. The same year he also finalised his masterful Cathedral series, inspired by Monet’s portrayal of the Rouen Cathedral.
Depicting a cluster of haystacks captured at various hours of the day, Monet’s paintings are considered one of the most seminal series of early modern art. He was highly praised for his serial studies set in natural settings, illustrating the dynamic relationship between light and colours.
Lichtenstein’s mechanical Haystacks interrogate the authenticity attributed to the French impressionist. The artist replaces the spontaneous impressionist brushstrokes with the exactness of his own signature Ben Day dots. Portraying a yellow stack of hay in the centre of the composition, Haystack is the most figurative one of the prints. The main element in the middle is defined through thick black contouring. The backdrop of the print is densely populated by strategically positioned dots, thrusting the simplified comic book rendition of the haystack to the foreground of the work.