Flowers (black and white), part of the Flowers (Hand-Coloured) series (1974), is one of Andy Warhol’s more atypical prints. Reminiscent of 19th century Japanese woodblock prints, this print depicts a vase with a couple of flowers and a long, decorative leaf entirely in black and white. As with many of Warhol’s prints, form, colour and composition are flattened and simplified, but what makes this print notable is its organic and gestural use of fine lines.
Warhol consciously maintains a hand-drawn quality in the Flowers (Hand-Coloured) series that alludes to the artist’s personal touch, producing a more contemplative image that transcends the ‘machine-like’ aesthetic. His earlier Flower series’ from 1964 and 1970 are unmistakably Pop in their brilliant, synthetic hues and erasure of the artist’s touch, however this later series is more illustrative in style, similar to the work of David Hockney and Alex Katz.
For the Flowers (Hand-Coloured) series, Warhol abandoned his photographic print technique to instead focus on line and composition. Using wallpaper samples and the book Interpretative Flower Designs by Mrs Raymond Rus Stolz as his source material, Warhol used an opaque projector to copy from these images and create the delicately rendered image. Every print in the series is unique in that they were each coloured by a studio assistant with Dr. Martin’s aniline watercolour dyes. Flowers (black and white) amalgamates the hand-drawn with the mass-produced, and originality with appropriation, in his use of the screen printing technique, hand-dying and the copied image through organically drawn lines.