In 1970 Andy Warhol produced a series of 10 screen prints based off photographs taken by Patricia Caulfield. These images of flowers where realistic nature shots of flowers that were featured in the June 1964 issue of Modern Photography. Patricia Caulfield had come across a vase of Hibiscus flowers in a restaurant in Barbados. The light struck the flowers in a such a way that she felt compelled to photograph it.
Warhol appropriated the image and transformed it into one of his earliest popular works in 1964. Warhol’s image was reinterpreted (without attribution). He used a silk screening process on canvass (see our blog post on Warhol’s silk screening process) showing four flowers only. The flowers are overpainted using vibrant colors which would become a trademark for much of Warhol’s most popular images.
In 1965 Warhol’s Flowers sparked a copyright infringement dispute between the artist and the photographer. Caulfield had seen a photo of Warhol’s work in the window of a New York bookstore and recognized her own work. Warhol’s camp downplayed the value of the original image inferring Caulfield was an amateur photographer with a decent photographer that Andy Warhol was kind enough to give “The Warhol Treatment”.
Caulfield claimed ownership over the original image on which Andy’s work was overlaid. Caulfield was quoted as saying “What’s irritating is to have someone like an image enough to use it, but denigrate the original talent”.
Caulfield’s law suit was settled out of court.
Warhol would end up being sued multiple times by photographers. His work is still the topic of Copyright and Piracy studies. The excerpts above were taken from “copyright and Piracy: An Interdisciplinary Critique” Chapter: Piracy and Authorship in Contemporary Art.
Andy Warhol’s 1970 Flowers Portfolio
This portfolio was produced by “Factory Additions”. It was silkscreened by Aetna Silkscreen productions. Un-doubtly this is the most famous of the series that Aetna produced for Warhol.
The original Inspiration for Andy Warhol’s 1970 Flowers portfolio
Like most of his work that he produced using “factory additions” Andy Warhol was trying to capitalize on his earlier efforts. In 1961 Andy was still a commercial artist when Vogue magazine commissioned him to illustrate a basket with Mexican paper flowers. Warhol used stamps and blotted lines reproducing three known versions of the still life. Warhol would return to this original ‘flowers “inspiration in 1974 10 years after the original work. That visitation would produce the Flowers (hand colored) portfolio.
While never confirmed by the Artist himself it is widely speculated the 1970 series resonated with Andy Warhol as a child of the sixties “freedom and love” revolution. A few quotes from the artist himself that seem to parlay into the motivation for this series
Andy Warhol Quotes related to the “flowers” portfolio.
“I always notice flowers “
“I think everybody should like everybody”
“In the 1960s, I think people forgot what emotions where supposed to be. And I don’t think they have ever remembered”