A classic work of Pop Art, Andy Warhol's four yellow blossoms in Flowers seemingly pop off the canvas, the bright blooms contrasting against the grassy black and white background. With its frontal viewpoint and cropped composition, the flowers appear to enter our space with foreground and background flattened together. The square format of the paintings particularly appealed to Warhol, because its shape permitted him to orient the painting anyway he wished. His works abandon the conventional use of perspective to allow Flowers to be installed in a variety of ways.
In the early 1960s, Warhol was established as a leader of the Pop Art movement with his signature use of repetitive images of consumer objects and celebrity icons. The cheerful and stimulating Flowers series includes some of Warhol's most lavishly colored, decorative, and suggestive paintings. Directly succeeding his Death and Disaster series, the Flowers represented a breath of fresh air, a welcome change in tone in the face of the controversy that his Death and Disaster scenes had generated.
This change came about in part because of a visit to Warhol's studio by the renowned curator of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Henry Geldzahler, one of the greatest champions of Pop Art. "I looked around the studio and it was all Marilyn and disasters and death," Geldzahler recalled. "I said, 'Andy, maybe it's enough death now.' He said, 'What do you mean?' I said, 'Well, how about this?' I opened a magazine to four flowers" (H. Geldzahler, quoted in T. Scherman & Dalton, Andy Warhol: His Controversial Life, Art and Colourful Times, London 2010, p. 225.) This iconic image is based on Patricia Caulfield's photograph of hibiscus flowers in Modern Photograph.
The Flowers paintings began in the summer of 1964 in preparation for his first solo exhibition at the famous Leo Castelli Gallery in November later that year. The show represented a career milestone for Warhol as Castelli was inundated with interest and the whole exhibition rapidly sold out within days. As such his Flowers paintings became some of Warhol's most celebrated works and they are a permanent demonstration of Warhol's ability to not only capture beauty but to also turn a decorative motif into a lasting icon.