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Flowers 7 POP Art Painting by Andy Warhol

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Flowers 7 POP Art Oil Painting
Keywords: Flowers Art   POP Painting  

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Flowers 7 POP Art - Warhol Paintings for Sale

signed and dated 64 on the overlap
fluorescent paint, acrylic and silkscreen ink on canvas

Warhol took the source image for his Flowers paintings of 1966, on which he based the subsequent print series (shown here), from a picture in a 1964 issue of Modern Photography. The photographer, Patricia Caulfield, sued Warhol and eventually received royalties as part of a settlement.
It wasn’t the first time Warhol had been sued over copyrighted images; another case involved Charles Moore’s Birmingham pictures from Life magazine. Afterward, Warhol was more careful in securing the rights to reproduce existing photographs from print media, but he shifted decisively toward using Polaroids taken by himself or his assistants.

“What is incredible about the best of the flower paintings…is that they present a distillation of much of the strength of Warhol’s art—the flash of beauty that suddenly becomes tragic under the viewer’s gaze.”
John Coplans, Andy Warhol, New York 1978, p. 52

Depicting four day-glo blossoms crisply rendered on a brilliant green and black ground, this rare Flowers painting is from a succinct group of 24-inch canvases within this iconic series that are rendered in fluorescent pigment. Produced during a period of fervent activity in the month preceding the famous 1964 Leo Castelli Flowers exhibition, the extant 24-inch Flowers are relatively numerous; approximately one hundred were recorded in the Castelli inventory. However, Warhol used fluorescent paint in less than one-third of these canvases, and multiple fluorescent flowers, such as the present work, are rarer still. Hand painted by Warhol using acetate stencils, the fluorescent colors are more intensely high-key and translucent than acrylics. They dried unevenly, creating an irregular and rather textured surface, which suggests a significant painterly concern beyond Warhol's fundamentally unmodulated machine aesthetic.

Continuing Warhol’s well-established use of mass imagery as source material, the Flowers series originated from a sequence of photographs of seven hibiscus blossoms, which were published in the June 1964 issue of Modern Photography to accompany an article on a new Kodak home color processing system. The original horizontal-format photographs were taken by the magazine’s executive editor Patricia Caulfield, and were printed with slight color differences in order to demonstrate the varying visual effects of different exposure times and filter settings–at once visually reminiscent of Warhol’s Pop repetitions. Warhol further cropped, rotated, and repeated the floral motif, creating a square composition that rejected the upright orientation of previous works to produce a variable creative vocabulary that was wholly stylistic, decorative, and abstract.

Of course, by using flowers as the subject of his work, Warhol was engaging with the long historical tradition of still life, notably in French Impressionist and Dutch vanitas painting. The poet Gerard Malanga recalled: “In a funny way, he was kind of repeating the history of art. It was like now we’re doing my Flower period! Like Monet’s Waterlilies, Van Gogh’s Flowers" (Gerard Malanga in David Dalton and David McCabe, A Year in the Life of Andy Warhol, New York 2003, p. 74). Where the tragedy of Marilyn Monroe’s fugitive beauty glimmers upon Warhol’s surfaces, this later series drew upon the iconographic association of floral imagery with life’s transience to illuminate the inevitability of mortality—a favored Warholian trope. To this end, during the run of the Castelli show, Warhol added forty-two silkscreened mourning Jackies, which were hung edge-to-edge, as a single work, in the back gallery. The mural-like display acted as a counterpoint to the floating wall panel of 24-inch Flowers, installed in the front gallery window, whereby the sunny, attractive and inconspicuously banal blooms transformed into funereal arrangements, the bright petals oscillating upon their somber black backgrounds.

This work is typical of the celebrated series in its stylized silkscreen composition, its implicit exploration of mortality, and its subtle assertion of Warhol’s role within a wider art-historical discourse. The Flowers represent a significant departure from the legendary subjects of the early 1960s–images of consumerism, celebrity, death and disasters–towards more aesthetically and philosophically abstract subject matter, and are as such exemplary works from the artist’s most radical, prolific and mythologized period. As works that exemplify Warhol’s formal, stylistic and curatorial innovation, the Flowers assure his position as the master of Pop.

 

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