Why Van Gogh's Sunflower Paintings Were So Important To Him

The first and most immediate aspect of van Gogh’s sunflower paintings is their incredibly bold use of color. The yellows and browns seem to pop out to the viewer, creating a mesmerizing display of the flowers that only a master painter could ever capture. As Britannica explains, van Gogh is considered a post-Impressionist painter, an artistic movement which gained traction in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. This collective of mostly French artists — Paul Gauguin and Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec among them — shied away from objective realism, instead opting to depict reality in accord with how it felt. This often lent itself to fantastically lurid subject depictions, vivid colors and dynamic form.

According to Dopely Colors, part of what makes van Gogh’s paintings so unique is how he used color. He used a variety of different tones, both dark and light, such as yellow ocher, Prussian blue, zinc white, emerald green, and so on, all based off whatever his mood was at the time. Mood was an essential part of van Gogh’s artistic expression. It’s also why color symbolism is key to his works, like the yellow in “Sunflowers.”