David Hockney's 30 Sunflowers

Year: 1996
Medium: Oil on canvas
Dimensions: 182.9 x 182.9 cm
Last Realised: £11.7 Million
David Hockney’s 30 Sunflowers. An oil on canvas work of five vases filled with sunflowers on top of a table with a red tablecloth. Image © Sotheby’s / 30 Sunflowers © David Hockney 1996
Jasper Tordoff

Jasper Tordoff, Specialist[email protected]

Interested in buying or selling
David Hockney?

Browse artworks
David Hockney

David Hockney

631 works

30 Sunflowers, created in 1996, is an emblematic work within David Hockney's oeuvre, showcasing his fascination with floral compositions and his mastery of vibrant colour palettes. The piece, rendered in oil on canvas, captures a profusion of sunflowers in various stages of bloom, arranged in a dynamic and seemingly spontaneous manner. This painting exemplifies Hockney's ability to blend naturalistic detail with an almost abstract sense of form and movement. As part of his ongoing exploration of still life, 30 Sunflowers stands out for its celebration of nature and its reflection of Hockney's engagement with the themes of life and vitality.


30 Sunflowers: Meaning & Analysis

30 Sunflowers is a vivid explosion of colour and form, with the sunflowers depicted in a riot of yellows, oranges, and greens. Hockney employs a lush, textured brushwork that gives the flowers a tactile, almost sculptural presence. The composition is both dense and airy, with each sunflower seemingly vying for attention while coexisting within the canvas. The interplay of light and shadow adds depth and dimension, enhancing the realism while maintaining a sense of whimsy.

Hockney's choice of sunflowers as a subject matter can be seen as a homage to Vincent van Gogh, whose own sunflower has become iconic in the art world. However, Hockney's approach is distinctly his own, infused with a modern sensibility and a bold use of colour that reflects his unique vision.

The painting's energy is emphasised by the scale of the canvas, which envelops the viewer in a sea of sunflowers. This immersive quality invites a closer examination of Hockney's technique, revealing the subtle variations in tone and texture that bring the flowers to life. The juxtaposition of bold hues and the intricate play of shadows create a dynamic visual rhythm, similar to the movement of the flowers in the wind.

30 Sunflowers resonates with Hockney's broader exploration of the natural world and his interest in capturing fleeting moments of beauty. The arrangement of the flowers suggests a moment of spontaneous creation, a snapshot of nature's exuberance frozen in time. This work also highlights Hockney's technical prowess, from his adept handling of colour to his nuanced understanding of light. The thick, expressive brushstrokes convey both the physicality of the flowers and the artist's emotional engagement with his subject.

Reflections on Hockney's 30 Sunflowers

30 Sunflowers holds a significant place within Hockney's career, reflecting his continued evolution as an artist and his deepening engagement with nature. The painting has been well-received by critics and audiences alike, praised for its energy and technical brilliance. It has featured prominently in major exhibitions, further cementing Hockney's reputation as one of the leading figures in contemporary art.

The appeal of 30 Sunflowers lies in its ability to transcend its immediate subject matter and evoke broader themes of life and vitality. The artwork invites viewers to appreciate the beauty of nature while also contemplating the artistic process itself. Hockney's composition not only captures the essence of the sunflowers but also transforms them into symbols of creativity and renewal.

In the broader context of contemporary portraiture and still life, 30 Sunflowers stands out as a testament to Hockney's innovative approach and his ability to infuse traditional subjects with modern meaning. The painting continues to inspire and captivate, offering a glimpse into Hockney’s fascination with natural beauty.

30 Sunflowers Exhibition History

London, David Hockney: Flowers, Faces and Spaces, Annely Juda Fine Art, May 1996

Los Angeles, Hockney's Still Lifes, L.A. Louver Gallery, September 1997

London, David Hockney Flowers, Faces and Spaces, Annely Juda Fine Art, 1997

New York, The Flower Paintings of David Hockney, Pace Gallery, June 1998

Paris, Hockney's Nature, Centre Pompidou, March 2001

Tokyo, David Hockney: A Retrospective, Tokyo Metropolitan Art Museum, October 2003

London, Lynette Yiadom-Boakye selects; Works from the V-A-C Collection: Natures, Natural and Unnatural, Whitechapel Gallery, 2015

Venice, The Explorers, V-A-C Foundation, Palazzo delle Zattere, 2018

Buy and sell artworks