Sunflower is an early 20th-century symbolist Art Nouveau painting by Austrian artist Gustav Klimt. This work can be found in the Belvedere in Vienna, Austria.
The Sunflower Analysis
This is a naturalistic painting by Gustav Klimt showing an upstanding sunflower with a colorful set of small flowers at its base and, behind it, a rambler plant almost entirely occupying the space of this canvas.
The orderliness of the ivy in the background, configured in the shape of a wall, tells us we are most certainly inside a cultivated garden. It may be the one that Klimt was used to seeing in Salzkammergut during his yearly holidays. The sunflower itself is, significantly, enjoyed in its natural habitat, not displaced in a pot or vase. It is not, in other words, a still life.
The sunflower stands as if in mimicry of a person. It is centered on the canvas like the subject of a typical Klimt portrait. Meadow flowers at its feet make us think of a pedestal on which this majestic figure is erected. The hanging leaves along the stalk resemble hanging robes.
What this human-like subject might be thinking, feeling, or representing is the follow-on question. It is standing isolated from any other plant of its kind. The turf around it looks freshly cut as if to eliminate every other presence. Should we observe its hanging head, or should we ignore it as its natural appearance?
Similarities to The Kiss
It must be noted, instead, that the structure of The Sunflower echoes that of The Kiss, alongside which it was in fact exhibited in 1908, at the Art Show in Vienna. We note the same floral pedestal, the same hanging disposition in the main figure, and the same mostly monochrome wall-like base in the background.
The similarity is one of the facts which encourage a metaphorical reading of The Sunflower as telling us something about the then relationship between Klimt and Emilie Flöge.
The Sunflower Location
This work can be found in the Belvedere in Vienna, Austria.