June 11, 2007

Books covered in hay

While the following books do not cover hay art exclusively (or at all), hay art is on the cover of each of them. Presumably the authors and or publishers selected the hay images for their attractiveness and marketability.

Lost weddings
Beig, Maria. Lost weddings: a novel. New York: Persea Books, 1990.
Cover photograph: Farmworkers during hay harvest, 1930.
Hayinart database ID 6168.
The novel, translated by cousin Jaimy Gordon and her husband Peter Blickle, is set near Lake Constance in the District of Ravensburg where the photograph was taken. There is little hay making in these dark stories, but there are notes on two hay terms. "Hay holiday : Formerly the German school year started in spring. In early summer, school would close for a few days or more so that the children could help their parents with the haying." and "Heinzen: wooden racks in the form of tripods to dry hay on." The latter reference is particularly intriguing since it appears (p. 62) in the context of a description of a hilly landscape, where traditional ways of drying hay might have survived longer.

Annas Arbeit
Beig, Maria. Annas Arbeit:Erzahlungen. Stuttgart: Thorbecke, 2000.
Cover photograph: Rupert Leser: Woman carrying and raking hay.
Hayinart database ID 6172.
Sent by Peter Blickle with the following description. "The old farm woman (or maybe a tenant farmer's, sometimes referred to as half farmer's wife) in the picture is carrying one large lump of hay under her left arm while she is raking leftover hay -- presumably on her way to either her cart or her farm house or the hay shed somewhere in the field -- with the wooden rake in her right. In the background is a solitary farm, probably somewhere in the Hegau (a flat region in the Alpine foothills near Leutkirch and Wurzach)."

 American art in the Barbizon mood
Bermingham, Peter. American art in the Barbizon mood. Washington, DC: Smithsonian Inst Press, 1975.
Cover painting: Elliott Daingerfield, Return from the farm.
Hayinart database ID 3671.
Bermingham’s book covers the influence of French Barbizon painters on New England painters later in the nineteenth century. While hay-making and haystacks were occasional rather than common themes, its illustrations yielded work by the following artists in our database: George Inness ; Emile Labinet; Charles Jacque ; and the cover by Daingerfield.

Best American Magazine Writing 2003
Best American Magazine Writing 2003. New York: Harper Collins, 2003.
Cover photograph: James H. Evans.
Hayinart database ID 1221.
The flag painted on the end of a round bale signifies rustic patriotism, but hay is otherwise absent from the literary themes of this anthology.

Picnic, lightning
Collins, Billy. Picnic, lightning. University of Pittsburgh Press, 1998.
Cover art: Martin Johnson Heade. Salt marsh hay. c1865.
Hayinart database ID 198.
This exquisitely designed cover uses the same Heade marsh painting twice, a softly faded detail for the lower third, and a larger, darker, sharper view for the upper section. Much of Collins’ poetry has similar levels of focus and meaning: gentle impressions of serenity, yielding on further reflection a sense of vivid, often ominous clarity. Hay appears once, not in the title poem, but in one about a visit to a museum of American art: “Then I blinked and moved on/to other American scenes/of haystacks…”

 Szinyei Merse
Domanszky, Gabriella Szvoboda. Szinyei Merse. Budapest: Mgyar Nemzeti Galeria, 2006.
Front and back cover: Pal Szinyei Merse: Szerelmespar, 1870.
Hayinart database ID 5751.
I bought this handsome volume in the Hungarian National Gallery(Magyar Nemzeti Galeria) in Budapest. Its language and the artist are Hungarian. But the cover image is a universal theme of languid love in a field of drying haycocks, “Szerelmespar.”

 Szinyei Merse cover.  Szinyei Merse cover.

 Art and beauty in the Middle Ages
Eco, Umberto. Art and beauty in the Middle Ages. Yale University Press, 2002 paperback edition.
Cover illustration: Tres riches heures du Duc de Berry, June [detail].
Hayinart database ID 8.
In depicting activities associated with the month of June in the magnificent book of hours of the Duc de Berry, the Limbourg brothers painted an almost documentary image of traditional haymaking. The fine christusrex website has a vivid description of the scene. "Every detail of the operation is carefully observed and rendered. The freshly mown area stands out brightly against the untouched grass, and the already fading shocked hay is still different in color. In the foreground two women rake and stack the hay." Most of Eco's book concerns an earlier sensibility than that of the Limbourg brothers. But one passage is, so to speak, illuminating. "The cosmos of the early Middle Ages gave way to a universe which we could call scientific. Earlier, things had possessed a value not because of what they were but because of what they meant...Even Gothic figurative art, which was the highest point of allegorical sensibility, reflected the new climate. For alongside its vast symbolical ideations there were some pleasant little figures which reveal a freshness of feeling for nature and a close attention to objects." So this field of humble seasonal labor, in which the workers seem to dance rhythmically between their tasks, lies next to the wall of a Gothic Parisian palais of many spires. From the Virgin-like women in the foreground, the row of hay-piles, most primitive of edifices, curve back towards grand architecture, serving the twin needs of medieval allegory and Renaissance perspective. Eco wrote the introduction to Illuminations of Heaven and Earth, a sumptuous 1988 edition of Les Tres Riches Heures, but fails to mention the Heures in the book which used the June haymaking scene on its cover.

 Dead in the hay
Fedderson, Connie. Dead in the hay. New York: Kensington Books, 1999.
Cover illustration: unknown artist.
Hayinart database ID 1219.
Connie Feddersen’s detective story, one in the Amanda Hazard mystery series concerns the strange death by hay-bale of a cantankerous rancher named Harvey Renshaw. “Amanda couldn’t figure out how Harv had been crushed by the heavy round bale. Obviously the hay bale had been elevated on the prongs of the tractor at some point in time. Had hungry cattle bumped into Harvey while he was pulling strings?”

 Framing France
Framing France : the representation of the landscape in France, 1870-1914. Manchester UP, 1998.
Cover painting: Henri Martin. Summer. 1903.
Hayinart database ID 6146.
On the cover of the collection of essays exploring French landscape painting from 1870 to the beginning of the Great War is a major work by a relatively minor painter. Henri Martin’s “L’ete”was the large central mural of a tryptich done at and for Toulouse his native city. Given the range of famous artists in this volume, among them Monet, Cezanne, Van Gogh, Derain and Matisse, and the intellectual and aesthetic sweep of its content towards urbanism and modernism, the selection of a conventional , representational rural scene is surprising, although the parallel bands of setting sunlight and poplar-shadow impose a decorative pattern against the grain of the description of familiar rustic labor. The following quote from the essay on Martin seems relevant here: "Une moisson, avec ses faneuses dans la poussiere d'or, si tu sais mediter, t'enseignera des metaphysiques." (A harvest, with its haymakers in the golden dust will teach you metaphysics if you know how to meditate). From Le Blond's Essai sur le Naturisme, Paris, 1896, p. 35.

 Impressionist Giverny
Impressionist Giverny: A colony of artists, 1885-1915. Giverny: Musee d'Art Americain, 2007.
Cover painting: John Leslie Breck, Studies of an Autumn Day, no. 7, 1891.
Hayinart database ID 6654.
This handsome catalog, documenting an exhibit held successively in Giverny and San Diego in 2007 (alas, it closed a few days before I would have willingly driven a few hundred miles to see it), has several alleged "haystack" paintings, including the ones on the cover. Following Monet, John Leslie Breck, one of many American artists to settle in the community in the decades before the first World War, painted this group of stacks, almost certainly grain but what the hay, a dozen times under the changing light of a single autumn day. The book is primarly concerned with the formation of an artists' colony, their mutual influence, rivalries and interactions, and the motifs, including so-called haystacks, which were so common in the work.  Breck. Studies of an Autumn Day. 1891In Nina Lubbren's essay "Breakfast at Monet's," there is the following useful, albeit erroneous observation. "Haystacks, for example, were part of the agrarian landscape in many of the rural regions of Europe but after the success of Monet's exhibition of haystacks in 1891, they became firmly linked to Giverny in particular and appear in various paintings produced in the village," including the Breck series(p.36). Among the other artists whose "hay" works are illustrated in the book are Jean-Francois Millet, Lila Cabot Perry, Theodore Wendel, Louis Paul Dessar, Dawson Watson-Dawson, William Blair Bruce, Willard Leroy Metcalf, Alson Skinner Clark, Josef Pankiewicz, Blanche Hoschede-Monet, and, of course, the latter's famous step-father /father-in-law. Quite a haul, even if most of them are actually paintings of grainstacks.

 The essential landscape
Jackson, J. B. The essential landscape: the New Mexico Photographic Survey. Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 1985.
Cover photograph: Alex Harris.
Hayinart database ID 1700.
J. B. Jackson was one of my most cherished influences at Berkeley. An architect by training, he settled in Santa Fe in the fifties and founded a small magazine to celebrate his love of landscapes, especially those of the American Southwest. So brilliant were its contents, especially his own essays, and so uniquely original was its brand of human geography, that it transformed the way a generation of geographers looked at the world around them. Remarkably he divided his time between New Mexico, Berkeley, and Harvard, the latter forum particularly impressive in view of its abandonment of geography as a defensible discipline some years before. Although I can find nothing in all Jackson’s writings to suggest that the landscape of hay was of particular interest to him, his appreciation and interpretation of ordinary landscapes was directly useful to me in my own approach both to hay and to its art. I must confess that the photographer whose fine image of snow, horses and hay is on the cover of this book considered my appropriation of his work for my own purposes to be “unprofessional” since, originally, ironically in view of the current context, I cropped off the title from the cover illustration.

 John Steuart Curry
Junker, Patricia. John Steuart Curry: inventing the Middle West. New York: Hudson Hills Press, 1998.
Cover illustration: Line storm [detail], 1934.
Hayinart database ID 930.
I found this book in the gift shop of a San Francisco museum, a few years after the large Curry retrospective had come and gone. A few weeks ago, I walked into the mobile home of a Santa Cruz friend, also named Curry, and was delighted to see another fine painting of midwestern hay on the wall. I was even more delighted when my friend told me that it was done by his “Uncle John,” the great regionalist himself!

 George Stubbs
Kidson, Alex. George Stubbs: a celebration. London: Tate Britain, 2006.
Front cover: Haymakers [detail], 1785. Hayinart database ID 6160.
Back cover: Haymakers, 1794. Hayinart database ID 78.
The slim, essay length pamphlet which accompanied the fine Stubbs exhibit across the Atlantic from the Tate to the Frick Museum in New York in 2007 is decorated by not one but two of Stubbs haymaking scenes, although the show itself celebrated his mastery of animal painting more than his contribution to the genre of rural work. I traveled from California to New York to see the Frick show, primarily to see the almost classical “Haymakers” of 1785, paired with the equally famous, allegedly anecdotal “ Harvesters ” of the same year.

 George Stubbs
Alas, the 1794 version of the haymaking scene, painted on enamel and reproduced on the back cover of the pamphlet, did not make the trip to New York. Compensating for this lacuna was the eloquence of the wall caption of the older version: "The unforced actions of the haymakers are part of a gracefully orchestrated design that precisely incorporates each movement of raking and carting. The action pivots around the woman, who is posed at the center like a classical goddess. She looks out, inviting the viewers to witness activities that, through, ritualistic repetition, have become as intrinsic to nature as are the seasons."

 Love among the haystacks
Lawrence, David Herbert. Love among the haystacks. Penguin, 1986 paperback edition.
Cover illustration: Yvonne Gilbert.
Hayinart database ID 5568.
Gilbert's picture perfectly captures the sultry relationship between Maurice, recovering from a fall from the top of a haystack, deliberately pushed by his older brother Geoffrey, and the exotic Polish governess, Paula Jablonowsky, after whom Geoffrey also lusts. The story evokes desire, passion, and hay making in rural Nottinghamshire at the time of Lawrence's boyhood. The color, texture, shape, smell and symbolism of the stack pervade the narrative from the first page: "so silvery and delicately bright in tone that it seemed not to have weight.. The stack they rode was high, lifting them up above the hedge-tops, and very broad, a great slightly-hollowed vessel into which the sunlight poured, in which the hot, sweet scent of the hay was suffocating. Small and inefficacious the brothers looked, half-submerged in the loose, great trough, lifted high up as if on an altar reared to the sun." (p.7)

 The contrary farmer
Logsdon, Gene. The contrary farmer. White River Junction, VT: Chelsea Green, 1995 [first paperback edition].
Cover painting: Karl J. Kuerner. First cutting.
Hayinart database ID 1211.
That Logsdon’s publishers should select a graceful Brandywine Valley hayfield rendered by Wyeth’s friend and neighbor Karl Kuerner seems at first glance not to be incongruous. This subversive volume on so-called “cottage farming” even includes a substantial section on the best way to make hay with minimal technology (pp. 209-214). But Logsdon describes and argues for pre-industrial loose hay harvesting, not the mechanized windrows and bales shown on the cover. His methods are more like those of contemporary Romania than the late 20th century American Kuerner scene, even introducing the quaint word “doodle” into my hay vocabulary. “These doodles are supported by little tripods of poles instead of the single pole of common tradition. Once in the stack, the hay is not much harmed by the rain as it would be lying in a windrow and eventually the stack dries out without molding because the tripod offers good air circulation.”

 Hay (Poems).
Muldoon, Paul. Hay (Poems). New York: Farrar, Straus, Giroux. 1998.
Cover photograph of a hay[?] bale, unknown artist.
While Muldoon is seen by a many as the successor to his friend Seamus Heaney as the latest great Ulster poet, his style could not be more different. Bob Hass, who also admires the lyrical gravity of Heaney, has called Muldoon’s work “witty, cosmopolitan, playful and postmodern,” and the title of this collection, like its cover is densely ironic. The only regularity in the anonymous photograph is formed by the parallel lines of the string that holds the bale together; the rest is abstract, vaguely tinted texture, holding our eyes to the surface but suggesting deeper shadows. The title poem on page 50, evokes hard, rustic labor, authentically enough to suggest that Muldoon knows what the work feels like. But this is not a poem that evokes Heaney’s harvest of rural images. It’s more like an extended haiku (hay cue), reminding us of Gary Snyder’s contemporary zen. “My hands are raw. I’m itching to cut the twine, to unpack/that hay-accordion, that hay concertina.” There are two other hay poems in the collection, “The Plot,” riffing rhythmically on repetitions of the word alfalfa squarely surrounding the homophone “alpha,” and “Third Epistle to Timothy” improbably punning on grass with a disciple’s name.
The texts of all three Muldoon hay poems ; a few by Heaney; and one by Snyder can be found elsewhere on this site.

English country traditions
Niall, Ian. English country traditions. London : Pavilion Books, 1990.
Cover wood engraving: Christopher Wormell.
Hayinart database ID 1119.

Pack, Robert. Rounding it out: a cycle of sonnetelles. University of Chicago Press, 1999.
Cover pastel: Cynthia Price. Clusters: into the wood, 1988.
Hayinart database ID 2802.
Pack’s highly formal “cycle” of 48 poems, arranged in four groups of twelve, each rigorously composed in sixteen lines, two more than a sonnet, in which the last echoes the first, and the eighth, the second, is beautifully exemplified by “Baled hay’ on page 28, exactly halfway through the cycle. Cynthia Price’s pastel on the cover is a perfect visual complement to these lines.

 Rounding it out
“Wheels of baled hay bask in October sun:
Gold circles strewn across a sloping field,
They seem arranged as if each one
Has found its place; together they appeal
To some glimpsed order in my mind
Preceding my chance pausing here--
A randomness that also seems designed.
Gold circles strewn across the sloping field
Evoke a silence deep as my deep fear
Of emptiness; I feel the scene requires
A listener who can respond with words, yet who
Prolongs the silence that I still desire,
Relieved as clacking crows come flashing through,
Whose blackness shows chance radiance of fire.
Yet stillness in the field remains for everyone:
Wheels of baled hay bask in the October sun.”

 The rooster crows
Petersham, , Maud and Miska. The rooster crows: a book of American rhymes and jingles. New York: MacMillan, 1945.
Cover illustration: Miska Petersham.
Hayinart database ID 2030.

 Point of view
Point of view: landscapes from the Addison Collection. Andover, Mass: Addison Gallery of American Art, Phillips Academy.
Cover painting: Thomas Worthington Whittredge, Home by the sea, 1875.
Hayinart database ID 3675.

 The farm book
Poortvliet, Rien. The farm book. New York: Abrams, 1980.
Front and back cover: Horse rake.
Hayinart database ID 2949 and 2950.
The original Dutch title for this book was Te hooi en te gras (The hay and the grass). The English title is, alas, more accurate, since neither the Dutch nor the English version is as totally devoted to hay as we would like! But both versions do include many vivid images related to hay, both in the making and in the barn, and the Abrams editors, unlike the Dutch original, have a horse-drawn hay-rake on the cover page. Poortvliet is a brilliant watercolor chronicler of the traditional Dutch farm. Robert Elman's introduction compares him, justly, to Bruegel, Bosch and Norman Rockwell! Among the other hay-related illustrations are a schematic view showing the relationship of the dairy to the hay-barn; a visual anecdote worthy of Norman Rockwell -- a couple in a hayloft surprised by the arrival of another male, probably the girl’s father; and several others.

 Yesterday's countryside
Porter, Valerie. Yesterday's countryside: country life as it really was. Newton Abbot: David and Charles, 2002.
Cover photograph: Kenneth Scowen.
Hayinart database ID 2819.
While the appeal of this fat book of old rural English photographs is frankly nostalgic, the thematic essays which tie together the hundreds of illustrations are well-balanced and carefully researched sociology. Hay-making appears on only a few pages, first to illustrate the impact of mechanization in reducing the involvement of the community in seasonal work (pp. 206-207), and later, ironically, the need for manual workers to bring in the hay during World War II, when British soldiers and sailors and foreign prisoners of war are all shown literally pitching in (pp. 296-297).

 A romance with the landscape
A romance with the landscape: realism to impressionism. Lexington, KY: University of Kentucky Art Museum, 2006.
Cover painting: Julien Dupre. The harvester [detail]. c1880-1881.
Hayinart database ID 639.
In 2006 and 2007, two Appalachian art museums displayed an excellent exhibit which illustrated some important transitions in late nineteenth century landscape painting. For the cover of the excellent exhibition catalog, they selected an example of the work of (the moderately but, thanks to the efforts of Howard Rehs and others, increasingly famous) Julien Dupre. Gabriel Weisberg’s essay has a particularly insightful passage on the painting. The wooden fork “reinforces the notion of the proud continuance of tradition in the face of changing modes of mechanization. The position of the worker, the fact that she is engaged in an activity which has been linked to farm families for centuries, further underscores the way in which Dupre wanted the fieldworker to be seen: a solitary type heroically involved with the task at hand.” That Dupre’s central characters were usually beautiful young women unspoiled by the effects of their labor was an attempt to make his paintings more appealing to urban patrons. Presumably, the cover of the catalog had a similar intent!

 Rough guide to Romania
The rough guide to Romania. Penguin, 2001
Cover photograph: Peter Wilson: Saliste, Transylvania.
Hayinart database ID 6177.
Haystacks appear on both the front and back covers of this Rough Guide and several other hay scenes are used elsewhere in the book to convey a sense of unspoiled rural scenery. This pictorial prominence prompted me to look for other images of haymaking in Romania and eventually, indirectly, led me to visit the country itself. However, the text completely overlooks the importance of this attractive landscape element. How could the author devote a chapter to magnificent Maramures and fail to mention the thousands of haystacks that decorate its hills and epitomize an agricultural economy which is regionally essential and historically significant as the famous wooden churches?

 A wilder image bright
Sharp, Kevin . A wilder image bright: Hudson River School paintings from the Manoogian Collection. Vero Beach, FL, 2004.
Cover painting: Albert Bierstadt. Haying, Conway Meadows [detail], 1864.
Hayinart database ID 3643 and ID 3644.
Kevin Sharp calls this Bierstadt painting “Peace and Plenty, North Conway, New Hampshire” and gives it vivid prominence in the Vero Museum catalog: details on the front and back cover and another detail on p.26, as well as extended annotation. The work 'reflected the larger issues of community and collectivity during the late stages of the Civil War.' On top of the heavily loaded wagon 'two young lovers steal a private moment from the family and neighbors who have gathered the harvest hay.' Yet the lovers seem less intent on each other than on the field of work and the mountains beyond it. The selection of such bucolic details, in view of Beirstadt’s more well known, epic, even exaggerated vision of western wilderness, though valuable for our peculiar purposes, seems a bit eccentric.
 A wilder image bright

Posted by Alan Ritch at 02:45 PM | Comments (0)