Van Gogh pie-charts

This is Arthur Buxton's set of Van Gogh pie-charts; each one represents the color-distribution in a famous Van Gogh painting (can you guess which is which?)

He sez, "I know you lot are fans of new ways of visualizing data. As far as I know, I've come up with a novel way of looking at colour schemes. The pie charts are designed to be visually pleasing but also fuction as a colour trend visualization tool. They represent famous paintings, portraying the five most prominent colours in each as a percentage. I'm having a show at The Arts House in Bristol with a drinks reception at 7pm on Friday the 18th of February. Mutants welcome!"

Van Gogh Visualisation (Thanks, Arthur!)


  1. Me too Quasimondo. I had just copied your url to paste it here. BTW, I thought your circle pack treatment of Madame X and Alexander Sakharoff were particularly nice. And your Mondrian made me laugh quite a bit — brilliant.

  2. Aw man, I just assumed that I’d be able to click on the pie charts and find out which painting each represents. Why doesn’t everything instantly work the way I think it will?

    The only one I’m going to guess at is Starry Night, second row, two from the left. Although interestingly, Google Imaging to confirm my hunch, I see that the blues in the painting can vary wildly depending on who’s taking the photo and how, going from a deep royal blue for the night sky all the way to an odd turquoise. I wonder which versions of images were chosen to make this pie chart.

  3. Just so we can all check ourselves for a Pas/Fail rating, is there a list of paintings to go with this?
    (I am only really sure of about 3 and not willing to commit myself in public.)

    I think the pie charts are lovely in their own right, but the colour choices come from a master.

    1. I recently watched a lecture about giving scientific talks, and this was one of the insights: There are tools in office software (like powerpoint) which are designed to help you obscure information. 3D bar graphs were the example he gave. Remember, not everyone making graphs wants their audience to draw the proper conclusion.

  4. Count me as another who hopes he’ll divulge the answers soon.

    There’s even less info on his blog.


  5. The most directly similar prior work of which I am aware is “Flags by Colours” by Shahee Ilyas (2007), in which the artist computed similar pie charts for the flags of all the world’s nations:

    Buxton’s work demands that the colors of Van Gogh’s paintings colors be quantized or clustered into bins. It looks like Buxton arbitrarily chose 5 as the number of bins for each painting’s colors. Obviously, though, there are more than 5 colors in a Van Gogh painting. Ilyas’ project, by contrast, is a direct transduction of the flag’s colors into pie charts, without an arbitrary data-reduction step.

  6. Limited edition prints available of this, and two more new editions; Monet and Matisse visualizations. Answers will be revealed at the show, and on my blog shortly after that!

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