Aging gracefully or not…
Around the world, curators have been mystified at the fading of Vincent Van Gogh’s paintings of sunflowers from the 1880’s. They were known for their bright yellow color, a result of Van Gogh using a new paint, lead-chromate yellow, called chrome yellow, in order to achieve the vibrant color.
Looking closely at the painting reveals the cycle in detail, where gathered in the same vase, are brightly yellow sunflowers along side withering likenesses of themselves only weeks before. Drooping in the twilight of life.
The sun has been fading the sunflowers of the painting as it grows older the same as it faded those that were painted. Is this not ironic that the painting has embodied the essence of the artist’s depiction?
Not all his sunflower paintings are fading though. Scientists at the European Synchrotron Radiation Facility determined with X-ray technology which ones are affected and why. They hit the paint with a high-intensity X-ray and found that the colorfast samples were made of chromium in its pure crystalline form. This is such an important discovery.
Van Gogh found beauty in life and death in his series on Sunflowers. I wonder if he knew his sunflowers would fade by the amount and type of chromium in his paint? I too love the artistry in flowers in the throws of death. See below.
And to slow the process of fading, the painting must be housed in a darkened gallery. What scientists found was they can not stop the darkening process, only slow it down. So, what does that say about life in general?
How about the next two images? I forced the decomposition along with a little spin in the microwave. Waiting was getting to this impatient photographer.
Most people agree that flowers are beautiful. But flowers are fleeting and I admit to loving them in life and loving them in death. Finding beauty in both because it is natural and right. We can be sad or we can be accepting. As time closes in, accepting becomes reality.
Now, I took a shot of the fading flowers and did a lot of Photoshop work, channeling a few Masters. I wish….. But, unlike working in oils, which would take me over a month to complete, my Photoshop painting took only 20 minutes. Hey, it could be better I know, but I am not selling it.
Hope you enjoyed my philosophical look at fading flowers. Fading is natural for all of us.