Sunflowers – in Art & Life (Van Gogh & O’Keeffe)

Cher’s Famous Art

26 September 2020

26 August 2021

”Sunflowers”

Vincent Van Gogh, 1888-89, Post–Impressionist, French

 Georgia O’Keeffe, 1935, Abstract, American

Travel Tips: Van Gogh & Amsterdam

Travel Tips: Van Gogh Immersion, special exhibit

Sunflowers!  They seem to be exceptionally HUGE this year, 2020, at least in Minnesota and Wisconsin!  Sunflowers are not really a subject worthy of deep introspection, political statement, or intense feelings; they are just bright and fun and make us smile! 

And right we all need something bright and fun to make us smile!

Vincent Van Gogh’s Sunflowers

Van Gogh’s paintings of sunflowers are among his most famous.  In total, he painted 11 canvases with sunflowers in 1888-89, paintings which are now all over the world in museums and private collections and worth millions of dollars. (Interestingly, he tried to sell one for $125 during his lifetime and couldn’t; in 1987, one of them sold for close to $40 million!) He began painting sunflowers when he left Holland for Arles, France and joined up with his friend, Paul Gauguin where he did his first sunflowers for Gauguin’s bedroom.   He did five of sunflowers in a vase with 3 shades of yellow ‘and nothing else.’

Vase with Sunflowers by Van Gogh

One can see and experience much of van Gogh’s work at the VanGogh Museum in Amsterdam (vangoghmuseum.nl).  Amsterdam is a gold mine for great art museums and there is one dedicated to Van Gogh alone!  Along with the Rijksmuseum, it is worth a trip to this colorful city!   (Travel Tips at the end of this post)

Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam, Netherlands

Georgia O’Keeffe’s Sunflower

For Georgia O’Keeffe, on the other hand, the sunflower was a rare subject.  Well known for doing close-up images of flowers, she painted sunflowers on only 3 occasions.   This example, “Sunflower New Mexico I” appears in a landscape environment, with bloom, stem and leaves framed against the bright blue Southwestern sky of New Mexico where she spent the later years of her life.  (20” x 16”) It is at the Cleveland  Museum of Art (clevelandart.org)  

Travel Tips

TRAVEL TIPS: VAN GOGH & AMSTERDAM

One can see and experience much of van Gogh’s work at the Van Gogh Museum (vangoghmuseum.hl) in Amsterdam.  Amsterdam is a gold mine for great art museums and there is one dedicated to Van Gogh alone!  Along with the Rijksmuseum (riksmuseum.nl), it is worth a trip to this colorful city!  I highly recommend taking advantage of one of the several options of excellent city passes, depending on where you want to go, what you want to do, and how much time you have in the city.

Get your tickets in advance to avoid long ticket lines. This museum is included in the Amsterdam city passes. It is right next door to the Rijksmuseum, so a good plan for a “day trip” and do them back-to-back. I highly recommend doing the Rijksmuseum first in the morning when it opens and head to the floor with key paintings by Rembrandt (Night Watch) and Vermeer. There is a lovely green space next door for relaxing – and great people-watching!

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