Best of Photos of 2000
[credit: cover USA (c) cover by Mark Seliger.]
Van Gogh Sunflowers
by Grant, 1998
ACRYLIC ON CANVAS
2" BY 3 1/4"
APPRAISED VALUE $10,000
The paintings of sunflowers were part of the decorative scheme Van Gogh had devised for his house in Aires. He wanted them to sand "like candelabras" around the Portrait of Madam Roulin. Flowers were scarce in Provence, but Van Gogh was extremely fond of these sunflowers, which he had to get up early in order to see in full bloom. Because of this, he felt they participated in a natural or cosmic cycle, and celebrated the sun and life. Their bright colors were particularly appealing to Van Gogh, who had discovered the power of gold and yellow in the south: "now we're having a gloriously strong windless heat here, which suits me well. A sun, a light that for want of a better word I can only call yellow, pale sulphur yellow, pale gold lemon. How beautiful yellow is!
This bouquet of sunflowers does not have the prettiness of a composed impressionist bouquet. Instead, it is an almost barbaric celebration of life, a pagan worship of the sun. The presentation is direct, and does not research any effect beyond the blunt expression of basic joy. The quasi-monochrome of the picture is extraordinary; from pale lemon to deep orange, all tones of yellow are represented on each individual flower, on the vase, and on the simple background, itself affected by this colorful exuberance. A fine blue line, complementary to the yellow, is delicately drawn and reappears in the signature. Green, the combination of both colors, adds another high-keyed note to the picture. A touch of white on the vase is an elegant detail, which makes the whole canvas glow.