A Study of Flowers in 20th century Art

A Study of Flowers in 20th century Art

“I paint flowers so they will not die”

~ Frida Kahlo

Flowers are one of the most commonly depicted subjects in still-life painting. After decades of imitating reality and reproducing flowers on canvas ‘as is’, artists in the 20th century began to experiment with form. Once still life painting was married to abstraction, reality was superceded by geometry and impressions. From Impressionism to Cubism to Primitivism, flowers transformed from real, to surreal into a commercial, naive and photorealistic rendering, before the camera took over.

Take a look at some breathtaking examples of flowers in art through various movements in the twentieth century. Observe the way in which these famous artists moulded their brush strokes in order to experiment with the theme and mode of representation.

1. Impressionism

Claude Monet, Two vases with Chrysanthemums, 1888, oil painting.
Paul Cezanne, Flowers in a Rococo Vase,1876, oil on canvas. 28 3/4 x 23 9/16″, Chester Dale Collection.


Pierre Auguste Renoir, Discarded Roses


2. Post-Impressionism

Vincent Van Gogh, Sunflowers (F.456), 1888,Third version: blue green background, oil on canvas, 91 × 72 cm, Neue Pinakothek, Munich, Germany.


3. Expressionism

Marc Chagall, Woman with a Bouquet, 1910, oil on canvas, 64 x 53.5 cm, Private Collection.


4. Cubism

Henri Matisse, La gerbe, 1953-58, paper cut-outs.


5. Naive Art or Primitivism

Frida Kahlo, Magnolias,1945, oil on masonite, 41 x 57 cm, Private collection.


Frida Kahlo, Flower basket, 1941, oil on copper plate, 64.1 cm, Private Collection


6. Surrealism

Salvador Dali, The Vase of Cornflowers, 1959.


Salvador Dali, Surrealist Flower, 1989