Artwork: Monet's Haystacks

Title: Haystacks (series)
What: Oil on canvas
Who: Claude Monet
When: 1890-91
Where: There are loads - 25 or 30, I think - and they hang in galleries and private collections all over the world

One of the things you'll notice is how much I like light in artworks. Plentiful, scarce or absent; it sets off the subject and, for me, is often the thing that makes the painting.

One of Monet's well-known works is the Haystacks series. He spent the end of summer through to the following spring painting the same thing over and over, focussing on how the light changed and fell differently, transforming the subject. 

He was part of the Impressionist movement - the group of painters who responded to the immediate impression given off by their subject, rejecting previous notions of artistry. They used a lot of primary colours, small strokes and studied light meticulously. The term comes from his 1872 work: Impression, soleil levant (ok, I admit I had to look that one up).

You can see a continuation of that style in the Haystacks paintings.

Anyway, Monet used his Haystack series to explore how a subject can change at different times of the harvest, and different times of the day. For the first half hour he'd work on one canvas, then move onto the second one, then the third. He'd return to them each day, building them up over time. 

One of the things I like about the paintings is the intimacy the artist gives to the viewer. Looking through the series (thanks Google, as I've never seen them in real life) it's nice to imagine the artist just watching the world go by from Summer to Spring.

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