Flowers (F. & S. II.69) is a print from Andy Warhol’s Flowers series (1970), a set of 10 screen prints showing one of his most recognisable motifs, four hibiscus flowers flattened and set against a backdrop of greenery. This print is rendered in excessively saturated hues of pink, purple and yellow, the flowers flattened into the blocked colour and the grassy undergrowth manipulated into a contrasting two-toned pattern of yellow and pink.
First appearing in his 1964 solo exhibition at the Leo Castelli Gallery in New York, entitled Flower Paintings, Warhol revisited the hibiscus motif and the subject of flowers more widely throughout his entire career. In this series, Warhol appropriates a photograph from a 1964 issue of Modern Photography by Patricia Caulfield, dramatically heightening the contrast and adding vivid colour to create a more abstract image exploring pattern and form. As a ground-breaking example of appropriation art at its best, Flowers (F. & S. 69) reflects Warhol’s obsession with the commercial process of screen printing and the ‘machine-like’ aesthetic consumer culture.
Manipulating the original photograph to its extremes by turning the hibiscus flowers into splashes of unnaturalistic colour against a fluorescent pattern of undergrowth, Warhol questions traditional notions of fine art, originality and authorship. Using a synthetic colour palette of brilliant colours, Warhol reduces to subject of nature to the kitsch aesthetic of mass-produced consumer products.