In 1964 Warhol embarked upon what would become one of his most successful and recognized series, the Flowers. Created in a variety of sizes and colours, these brilliantly coloured works were based on a photograph Warhol appropriated of hibiscus blossoms that had appeared in the June 1964 issue of Popular Photography. At this time Warhol was at the height of his creativity and international celebrity, and as David Bourdon writes, the "cheerful and refreshing Flowers series includes some of Warhol's most lushly colored, decorative, and ingratiating paintings" (D. Bourdon, Warhol, New York 1989, p. 191).
Initially, it was the well-known art critic and curator of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, Henry Geldzahler, who suggested the idea of painting flowers to Warhol. In a sense, the Flowers pictures fit nicely in to a long art historical tradition of still-life painting. "With the Flowers, Andy was just trying a different subject matter. 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 water lillies, Van Gogh's flowers, the genre" (Malanga, quoted in A Year in the Life of Andy Warhol, New York 2003, p. 74).
Warhol's modern day still-life is deliberately banal, artificial and captivating. The colours and shapes are quintessentially sixties and serve as an early symbol for the flower power generation, but simultaneously act as a record of Warhol attempting to create a truly, and universally "Popular" art. Dealer Ivan Karp recalls, "It was not an earthshaking photograph, but Warhol made a remarkable series of paintings out of it. Whatever, they were totally successful and we sold them all! And you could keep selling them right now! That's it. That's one of those immortal images. You know? He just found it. Right? It was a grand success" (I. Karp, interviewed in P. Smith, Andy Warhol's Art and Films, 1986, p. 358).