Andy Warhol’s 1970 Flowers set of ten color screenprints was created after Flower series of 1964. Despite Warhol’s usual depiction of mass media culture, Flowers is based on an appropriated photograph of seven hibiscus flowers published in Modern Photography magazine. The photograph, taken by the magazine’s executive editor Patricia Caulfield, was cropped to create a perfect composition of four flowers on a square canvas so that it could be viewed from any orientation. Each image in the portfolio was copied and enhanced with different contrasting colors, leading Caulfield to sue Warhol for use of her photo without consent. The lawsuit introduced questions of authenticity and authorship to Warhol’s’ oeuvre.
The commercial process of screenprinting reflected Warhol’s fascination with mechanical reproduction in consumer society. The seriality of flower images alludes to the repetition of mass-produced commodity goods. Warhol takes the flower and reproduces it in color, transforming an everyday object into chic Pop Art; a practice also seen in the Campbell’s Soup and Ads series. The portfolio also references still life compositions whose traditional subjects are flowers.
Warhol’s 1964 and 1970 Flowers portfolios have been linked to the rise of the Flower Power movement, a 1960s term for the non-violence movement. Flowers was printed the same time as Warhol’s Death and Disaster series, Thirteen Most Wanted Men, and the portraits of Jacqueline Kennedy after JFK’s assassination. Flowers was seen as a sign of purity and fragility amidst widespread violence, as well as a funerary symbol.
Flowers, 1970, is a portfolio of ten screenprints on paper, 36” x 36” each. The set is an edition of 250 signed in ball-point pen and numbered with a rubber stamp on verso; some dated. There are 26 AP signed and lettered A-Z in ball-point pen on verso. The series was published through Warhol’s New York based print-publishing business, Factory Additions. Printer: Aetna Silkscreen Products, Inc., New York.