Originally inspired by Patricia Caufield's series of colour photographs of seven hibiscus plants published in the June 1964 issue of Modern Photography, the series was an immediate success, and was showcased at the seminal Flower exhibitions in 1964 and 1965 at the Leo Castelli and Sonnabend Galleries in New York. A departure from Warhol's morbid 1962-63 Death and Disaster series and the artist's continued concern with popular culture and consumerism, the more abstract nature of the flower as a subject was a new artistic endeavour. Nevertheless, Warhol was undoubtedly toying with the classical symbolic significance of the hibiscus, a flower that is often seen to represent both the transience of life, as well as the fleeting quality of beauty, and therefore establishing an intellectual continuation of the sombre tone that underlies his entire oeuvre.
His play on the traditional genre of the Still Life painting can be seen as a contemporary reworking of an old-aged motif, following the great art historical traditions of Dutch masters and Nineteenth Century painters, whilst promoting a completely modern aesthetic. With his finger firmly on the pulse of avant-garde movements Warhol's new artistic endeavour bore not only a symbolic significance. Beat poet Allen Ginsberg's term "Flower Power", coined only a year after Warhol created his first flower motif, would come to be known as the Zeitgeist of a generation.
With its fluorescent shade of pink and elegant white background Flowers exudes the playful and flamboyant fashions of the 1960s and stands as an outstanding example of Warhol's unique ability to create a historically resonant image.
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