Kiku Andy Warhol
Find out more about Andy Warhol’s Kiku series, browse prints & editions for sale & view the works wanted by active buyers right now.
Andy Warhol visited Japan for the first time in 1956 on a trip around the world, before returning a second time in 1974 for a solo exhibition at the Daimaru Department Store. In 1983, Fujio Watanuki, a longstanding supporter of the Japanese avant-garde and founder of the Gendai Hanga Center in Tokyo, invited Warhol to create a new body of work inspired by Japanese flowers. The result is Kiku, a stunning series that centres on the chrysanthemum flower, or Kiku in Japanese. Warhol created 300 screen print portfolios with three prints in each portfolio. The artist also experimented with different colours and collaged layouts, resulting in unique pieces that did not form part of the final portfolio. The works were made in a uniquely small scale in order to suit the conventional size of Japanese living spaces.
The series is pure Pop Art as it unites the artist’s interests in repetition, bold graphic iconography and everyday imagery. Warhol went on to return to the subject of the flower in works such as Flower for Tacoma Dome and Daisy.
Flowers are a prominent motif in Warhol’s work. The artist created Flowers for his first exhibition at Leo Castelli Gallery in New York in 1964. He filled the entire gallery with the same image of a hibiscus flower screen printed onto canvas in different colour variations and with slight formal differences. One wall of the gallery displayed 28 canvas paintings featuring a repeated image of four flowers. Larger paintings with only two flowers were also exhibited. These early works were based on a photograph Warhol found in a 1964 issue of Modern Photography, taken by photographer Patricia Caulfield. The artist chose a traditional subject matter, often found in still life or landscape painting, and reimagined it by applying his uniquely Warholian treatment.
With Kiku, Warhol produced a stunning set of images that are striking in their elegance. Characterised by crisp vivid colour and layered forms, the portfolio retains its dynamism and impact even 35 years after its creation. Combining both abstraction and a naturalism that describes the flower’s form, the Kiku series is a poetic representation of a flower, layered with symbolic meaning. As well as representing longevity, rejuvenation and the autumn season, the chrysanthemum is the traditional symbol of the Japanese Emperor or Imperial House and can be found on the Japanese passport.
This body of work demonstrates the global influence of Warhol and his popularity with Japanese collectors. In Kiku the artist appealed to his audience with his subject matter. These bold yet delicate images are luminescent examples of his skill as a printmaker and colourist. Kiku also beautifully demonstrates Warhol’s ability to observe and represent the world around him in new and exciting ways. He once remarked, “I always notice flowers.”
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