ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Sunflowers in the Windstorm

Updated on September 19, 2012

Sunflowers in the Windstorm was painted in 1943, while World War II had taken hold of the majority of the globe. German artist Emil Nolde had been forbidden by the Nazi government to paint at the time he created this work of art. The Nazis believed Nolde’s style of painting was too emotionally expressive and preferred idealized art that promoted party policies, detested Nolde's emotionally expressive style of painting, which they labeled "degenerate." In defiance of the order, Nolde painted in secret anyway. Most often he painted watercolors; only on rare occasions did he dare to paint in oils, for fear that the smell of the pigments might betray him. Sunflowers in the Windstorm is one of just five oil paintings he created in 1943 (CMA Pocketbook Guide).

The subject matter of this painting is three Sunflowers. They are curled over, clearly being blown by a strong wind with a dark, ominous sky as the background. The sunflowers retain their bright yellow color and seem to almost fight back against the wind and the purple/black clouds lurking above. The storm seems to be sweeping heavy clouds in from the sea, as you can see the silhouette of small sailboats in the bottom right corner. My original interpretation of this piece was a sort of irony, juxtaposing sunflowers (which connote brightness, warmth, and happiness) along with a dark, stormy sky, clearly overtaking the flowers.

I believe Nolde’s depiction of the subject matter gives the entire work its meaning. The bright yellow petals are curling and the strong stems of the flowers are clearly swaying in the wind, possibly representing humanity’s struggle to endure oppression. In a more optimistic light, however, one may interpret the sunflowers as being strong and unbending, symbolizing the human spirit in the toughest of times.

Emil Nolde uses formal elements such as line, shape, and color, to convey a sense of hardship and trial. I believe this work is driven mostly by color, with the bright yellow sunflowers in the foreground first catching the viewers’ eye, only to be drawn to the dark purples, blues, and blacks of the stormy background. The shapes of the three sunflowers are somewhat defined, while the clouds are just dark swirls of color approaching a gold sunset.

Upon first viewing this painting at the Columbus Museum of Art, I was immediately struck by it. I stood there awhile pondering its possible meanings and realizing I had never seen anything quite like it. I have seen many painting of flowers, but nothing with this kind of darkness also portrayed in the same work. It was especially shocking with the three sunflowers, which, as I mentioned before, connote things like joy and happiness, being overtaken by a storm overhead. It left me with a slight sense of sadness but also an understanding of the reality of life, that it isn’t all laughter and peace, but that there storms and gales that try to knock us over and take away our joy.


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No comments yet.


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)