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Sunflowers is one of two paintings that Van Gogh created in his delight at having Gauguin come to join him in Arles. To welcome Gauguin, Van Gogh hung the Sunflowers in his room.

For months, Van Gogh had been urging Gauguin to come to Arles and be the leader of a community of colorists. He was excited by the prospect of having a companion to keep his desperate loneliness at bay.

Van Gogh intended that his yellow house in Arles be the headquarters of an artist colony, one which would create the next major style of painting after Impressionism. He wrote to Theo that he could not abide by the subtly graduated tonal values of the Impressionists. He intended to use color "full-bloodedly", because nature in the South insists on pure colors.

The Sunflowers series was done as a study in yellow. Van Gogh discovered yellow in Arles, in the south of France. He called it his "high yellow". Van Gogh described yellow as "the embodiment of the utmost clarity of love." This painting, done in January of 1889, exemplifies two important elements of Van Gogh's signature artistic style: an exaggeration of color and the humility of the peasant-like flowers.

Van Gogh - Sunflowers
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Van Gogh painted what he saw as faithfully as he could, respecting the visual details until the end of the process. He used color symbolically and heightened the effect of his paintings by exaggerating the descriptive colors, in the case of the Sunflowers, yellow.

The sunflowers themselves are no hot-house beauties. Each blossom is lumpy and in disarray.
In these sunflowers, Vincent Van Gogh's art expressed his profound spiritual humility and delight in the homely, simple and unadorned life.

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