5 x 7"
oil on panel
It's been my observation that most young children are bored in art museums unless they happened upon a work of art that is familiar to them - like paintings of children, mother and child, or big shapes and bright colors - then they pay attention.
It was no surprise to see a young girl seemingly mesmerized with the colorful, bold, modernist-style painting 'Le Tournesol' (The Sunflower) by Edward Steichen, which hangs in the National Gallery of Art in Washington DC.
Edward Steichen painted this in 1920, he was around 40 years old and had practiced painting and photography and most of his paintings were landscapes and portraits with very tonalist colors, muted, like his photography. Steichen abruptly changed his style in his late 30's to a more hard-edged, modernist style and painted 'Le Tournesol', which was exhibited in Paris in 1922, with great importance - along with similar works of art by Leger, O'Keeffe and others who's styles reflected stream-lined forms and off-key colors.
A few years later, Steichen apparently had a 'crisis in faith' and abandoned painting, destroying any photographs and artworks in his possession (this one was sold and not in his studio). He left New York and returned to France where he dove into gardening, raised sunflowers, photographed them over and over - studied mathematics intensely and painted small, abstract, geometric pieces. He did eventually return to the US, his photography continued to be his passion and his legacy. In 2006, one of his photographs sold for $2.9 million, what was then the highest price ever paid for a photograph at auction.