Sunflower Gustav Klimt Buy Art Prints Now
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Tom Gurney BSc (Hons) is an art history expert with over 20 years experience
Published on June 19, 2020 / Updated on October 14, 2023
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The Sunflower was painted in 1907 by the Austrian Art Nouveaux and Modernist painter, Gustav Klimt. The technique that he used was oil on canvas.

During the early 20th Century, Klimt was a member of Vienna Secession, which was a radical Avant Garde artistic establishment that was based in Austria. Other artists of the time included Auchentaller and Fabiani.

The symbol that was used to represent the group was that of Pallas Athena, who was the Greek goddess of wisdom.

Klimt's art was incredibly decorative and very different from the art that was being produced in Europe at that time. His paintings very much resembled the art that was being painted in France, within the Art Nouveau movement.

The Sunflower represents the very heart of this movement. What we see is an incredibly tall sunflower with a thick, luscious, green stalk with many leaves.

Bright flowers can be seen poking through the grass underneath, that help to both define and give depth to this majestic sunflower.

It was during this time that Klimt painted gold leaves onto his canvases, so as to enrich the image, and this can be clearly seen in this painting. Indeed, the painting appears to sparkle and almost appears to be not of this world, but that which is within a magical realm.

The image has been painted in a similar way to his famous painting, Eden. There is also a distinct similarity to his famous painting, The Kiss, as the golden leaves seem to entwine and embrace, in a similar way to the lovers in the now iconic image.

The Sunflower is presented in an upright form, almost as if it is a triangle. This also resembles the image of the lovers in The Kiss. Another theory within the art world, is that the image of the sunflower resembles that of Emilie Floge, an iconic and world renowned dress maker who was a close friend to Klimt.

The intricate leaves and flowers that are present represent her dress, while the flower head itself represents her face. The image is dominated with various hues of blues, greens and yellows.

The leaves have been painted with a slightly blue hue, which helps to add definition and a majestic quality, while the background has been subjected to white splashes of colour, that he used to illuminate the image and add depth to an otherwise dark background.

What this darkened background manages to achieve is that of drawing the eye to the towering sunflower. During this period in Klimt's carer, he was working closely with his friend and mentor, Van Gogh, and there are many comparisons to be made to his Sunflowers painting.

Possibly this is due to the blue tones of the image, as well as the overall feeling of sadness when we look at this regal flower. Perhaps this is due to the fact that the flower appears to be all alone.

Klimt was well known for his paintings of nature, and primarily those of tress and flowers, and although this painting is of nature, it differs from his previous creations.

This is possibly because we are observing an image that is natural, as the scene has not been influenced by human hands. The almost ethereal quality, that is represented with the golden leaves and purple tones, helps to create the natural image.

The flower is left in its natural environment. It has not been cut and arranged in a bowl, as so many paintings depicted at that time. What we observe is the natural scene in all of its splendour.