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Wheat field
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Group: Forces of Nature

Artist: Claude MONET
Birth/Death: 1840–1926

Title: Wheat field
Date Made: 1881

Lender: Cleveland Museum of Art, Ohio

Monet spent nearly three years painting within about two kilometres of Vétheuil. The growing abstraction of his style can be seen in the Wheat field of 1881 where the landscape is reduced essentially to three colour scales: reddish-gold, blue and green. The red-gold runs as a flat band right across the painting, but curves forward in a narrow channel and is scattered over the surface of the saturated greens which form another horizontal band. This meadow is articulated with long curving strokes of blue-green which are also used to create the trees and wonderful misty distances. Monet flattens the space and avoids illusionistic effects (for example, the path does not ‘look like’ a path; we know it to be a path through intuitive identification of shape, colour and location). One could compare this way of depicting space, by overlapping bands and linking curves and echoes of colour, with the landscapes of Hiroshige and Hokusai (see the latter’s Shichirigahama in Sagami Province). The Wheat field was painted in the summer after Monet began working on the Norman coast. It suggests that his intense concentration on the groundedness of the meadows around the Seine was the necessary counterpoint to his imaginative grasp of vast heights and huge expanses of water in his paintings of cliff and sea.

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