Van Gogh’s Paintings & Science

I have always loved Vincent van Gogh’s work, and I still vividly remember seeing many of his works in Amsterdam when I was a child. I was particularly fascinated by Sunflowers (1889) and my mom tells me I stood there for at least 10 minutes staring at it, (which is quite a feat when you’re three or four years old) so when I ran across an article about one of the sunflower paintings last month I was very intrigued.

A researcher from University of Georgia, Athens interest was piqued when he saw how varied the flowers were and discovered it was all thanks to a very random, genetic mutation. Scientists have even been able to reproduce the flowers, which is pretty neat.

Some of his other paintings, including Starry Night, depict actual turbulence similar to what you might see in nature, like in swirly water or air and a jet engine. The scientists have even looked at other artists who have a similar style, such as The Scream by Munch, but they do not match the precise calculations for the formula to calculate turbulence. It’s known that van Gogh suffered from psychotic episodes and many of his works were created during this time. The scientists wonder if he was able to actually “see” and depict turbulence in these chaotic states.

I don’t really understand the math behind it, but I think it’s fascinating nonetheless. I wonder what van Gogh would think, knowing during some of his most disturbing, painful moments would be so insightful for scientists and researchers and to see his work  finally recognized, respected and loved.

Check out the articles I found related to the subject:

Gene Behind van Gogh’s Sunflowers

Genetic Secrets of van Gogh’s Unique Sunflowers Revealed

Van Gogh Painted Perfect Turbulence

Troubled Minds & Perfect Turbulence

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