The Sunflower, 1907 by Gustav Klimt

The Sunflower is unusual in Klimt's paintings of trees and flowers in that there seems to be a certain anthropomorphic element. Once immediately thinks of Van Gogh's sunflowers, which were almost self-portraits. However, Klimt's flowers are still in situ, growing in the garden, while Van Gogh's have been picked and arranged in a vase. Van Gogh's infamous sunflowers altered many views on color schemes, exaggerated features, and stereotypically beautiful flowers in minimalistic form. The sunflower paintings by Vincent van Gogh are still lifes, whereas Klimt's images are details of the landscape. The shape and leaves in The Sunflower is remarkably like the form of the lovers in The Kiss. The two works were exhibited for the first time in 1908 at the Art Show Vienna.

Unlike the earlier landscapes from around 1898 to 1902, the painting of sunflowers are no longer concerned with mood; rather, Klimt is fascinated in a more objective way by the organic life that simply exists, independent of human intervention. The geometrical composition of his painting is no longer merely used for decorative effect, but to reinforce the artist's deatched observation of the scene while delighting in the opulence and abundance of nature.