From impressionistic legends like Henri Matisse and Van Gogh, to the photographs of Robert Mapplethorpe and Nick Knight, flowers have had an enduring presence throughout art history. Why they’re such an artistic favourite is often attributed to their simplicity – their subtle beauty, how easy they are to depict, and being a universally recognised as a symbol for the natural world. Whatever it is, there are a lot of strong examples to choose from which is why we wanted to highlight one of our steadfast favourites, flowers through the Pop Art lens of Andy Warhol.
Amidst his fascinations with pop culture icons and regular household items, Warhol turned his perspective to flowers starting in 1964. In the fall that year, the Leo Castelli gallery—considered thee space for contemporary art of the time—gave him his biggest solo shows to date. To give some context, American critics mostly hadn’t cottoned on to his work yet, seen mostly as a commercial artist, only European critics truly appreciated the work he and other pop artists were doing as legitimate critiques of American culture. A show at Castelli was a major endorsement from the New York art world, and a potential turning point for greater fame and validation.
The series—aptly named ‘Flowers, 1964’—saw Warhol apply his now standard silkscreen method to a single photograph of four hibiscus flowers, repeating the print in a variety of colours. He then effectively filled the Castelli gallery with flowers in different squared dimensions so they could be seen from different vantage points.