Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Claude Monet - Grainstack Series

Claude Monet, Haystacks at Chailliy at Sunrise, 1865
(San Diego Museum of Art)
Monet revisited the subject of his earlier painting, Haystacks at Chailliy from 1865 when he began working on his Grainstack series.
Claude Monet, Grainstack, Sun in the Midst, 1891
(Minneapolis Institute of Arts)

He was living back at Giverny in 1890 and was going out everyday to paint in the fields that surrounded his house.  This was a very familiar landscape, right outside his door.  The Grainstacks were 20 x 18' high man-made structures that were used to store wheat. It sometimes took a whole year to break them down, which was a great convenience for Monet.  He painted 25 canvases of the same motif with very little variations - some are one and some are two grainstacks - except for the light, weather and atmospheric effects.  He would set up a couple of easels next to one another and work on several canvases at the same time.

Claude Monet, Grainstack Snow Effect, 1891
(Museum of Fine Arts, Boston)

Claude Monet, Grainstacks at Sunset, Snow Effect, 1890
(Art Institute of Chicago)

Claude Monet, Grainstacks in the Sunlight Midday

Claude Monet, Two Grainstacks at The End of The Day, Autumn
(Art Institute of Chicago)

Grainstacks were monumental subjects on the landscape symbolizing fertility and prosperity; they were directly associated with the French countryside.  Monet was rendering the light and air surrounding the object, its distinctive light and atmosphere, this, he referred to as 'enveloppe.'  The subject became secondary to the colors and effects.  He was trying to capture air and light with paint.  It is relatively easy to decipher what he is trying to accomplish in the Grainstacks at Sunset, Snow Effect - the same blue used in the surroundings is picked up in the Grainstack, breaking down the barrier between the figure and ground. Monet captured the haziness that surrounded the figure. In these paintings, Monet's love of the French countryside, deep admiration for nature and his distinctive individualism all come through in eloquent simplicity. 1

1  Paul Tucker, Monet and the Challenges to Impressionism in the 1880s

Hokusai, 36 Views of Mount Fuji, 1826-1833                              

ukiyo-e Japanese Woodcut Prints Monet was aware of these prints and he owned a couple of them.  He was probably influenced by the idea of taking one subject and going over and over it with variations.  

No comments:

Post a Comment

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...