36 x 36 Inches
Signed and numbered Edition of 250
Warhol turned to the flower for inspiration time and again. In the 1950s, he made drawings of flowers in the tradition of representational still life. Blotted-line daisies, roses, and gold-foiled irises appeared in early commissioned artworks and book illustrations. He returned to the floral still life in 1974, with a series of screen prints based on Japanese ikebana arrangements.
It was in 1964, however, that Warhol embarked on one of his most successful projects using the flower motif. In a series of paintings based on a photograph of hibiscus blossoms, Warhol drenched the flowers’ floppy shape with vibrant color and set them against a background of rich undergrowth, transforming them into psychedelic indoor décor. Smith sees similarities between these 1964 Flowers and Japanese prints, as well as Claude Monet’s famous Water Lilies. In fact, art critic David Bourdon noted in a Village Voice article in 1964 that the flowers appear to float right off the canvas, “like cut-out gouaches by Matisse set adrift on Monet’s lily pond.”
“Flowers in art and culture have been ubiquitous since the beginning of recorded art history,” says Smith. “The floral theme wasn’t any more exhausted when Warhol was doing it than when 17th-century Dutch painters or the Impressionists were. But Warhol was sly; he was always playing with traditional art historical themes.”
Warhol’s 1964 Flowers paintings may have been created as a kind of tribute to the slain President John F. Kennedy. Warhol created the works along with his portraits of the grieving Jacqueline Kennedy only months after the assassination.