Gustave Bourgogne, Sunflowers - Original mid-20th-century gouache painting


An original mid-20th-century gouache painting, Gustave Bourgogne Sunflowers.

An exuberant gouache painting of sunflowers. The artist here is in the decorative effects of the flowers, rather like a book illustration, and as with other images in this collection the flowers could almost be bursting fireworks. There are multiple colours in the stalks, and the flowers seem to float in the air: the artist seems not to be interested in naturalism, in other words, but in the play of intense yellow in these blooms, which appear like little yellow suns.

Signed lower right. Dated 31-8-40. Inscribed 'Pau'. The city of Pau in southwestern France, close to Spain, is where Bourgogne lived during the 1940s. 
Pinhole in the upper right corner. Some rippling to the paper along the upper edge, possibly from water damage. Crease in the upper left corner, with a tear along the glue line as shown. Tears to the lower right corner as shown. Some paper loss to the top right edge. Small area of creasing and a small tear to the upper right side edge, near where the flower touches the side of the paper.
22.1cm x 16.6cm.

This is one of a series of works from a large folio of paintings by Gustave Bourgogne, entitled ‘la Peinture Musicale.’

Gustave Bourgogne (1888-1968) was one of the leading figures in an artistic movement of the Twenties, Thirties and Forties, which tried to create a synthesis between the visual arts and the art of music. Bourgogne was one of the founders, in 1932, of the Association des Artistes Musicalistes. These ‘musicalists’ tried to recreate in paint the emotion that was evoked by a piece of music: to find an equivalent for sound in colour and pictorial form.

In Bourgogne’s case, the inspiration for this approach came in 1928, when he heard the bells of the cathedral at Malines in France. Through a particular form of synaesthesia, Bourgogne experienced these sounds also as colours, and would devote much of his career to the attempt to reproduce in his paintings the feelings that he had when listening to music. In Bourgogne’s words, both music and painting have the same ‘deep rhythm,’ which he sought to express.

Bourgogne specialised in landscapes and still lifes, but as his career progressed, so they became increasingly difficult to distinguish, in their great expressiveness, from his abstract and semi-abstract interpretations of great musical compositions. Frequently, the titles of these paintings cite the specific musical works that inspired them.

The joyfulness and exuberance of the works in our collection belie the fact that many of them were painted during the dark days of the Second World War.

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Product code: JG-711

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