Flowers. Original silkscreen and hand Watercolor, 1974. Initialed “AW” in pencil lower right and signed on verso in pencil. Edition of 250 signed and numbered impressions on Arches paper.
Andy Warhol was born Andrew Warhola in 1928, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, to Julia and Andrej Warhola, Russian immigrants from Slovakia. In 1945 he attended a commercial design course at Carnegie Institute of Technology (now Carnegie Mellon University). After he graduated in 1949 he moved to New York and established himself as an advertisement illustrator for advertisements, at magazines such as Vogue and Glamour. While producing a series of illustrations for shoes, the printers accidentally left out the final A from his surname in the credits. He then officially changed his name to Andy Warhol in 1950. After a decade long career, he grew tired of commercial illustrations and asked gallery owner Muriel Latow for advice on how to continue his artistic career. She told him to paint what he liked most and things that everyone knows, like money and cans of soup. In the ’60s he was fascinated by a number of American celebrities: Elvis Presley, Elizabeth Taylor and others, depicting them with the silkscreen technique. The mysterious death of Marilyn Monroe, with whose tragic death the artist felt he could identify with, inspired him to produce a series of prints, to which he returned in later years. In the mid-’60s he devoted himself to more serious themes, depicting a series of car collisions and other accidents and deaths. In 1963 Warhol moved to his famous study, later known as The Factory, where he created most of his art – the Flower series, self-portraits, sculptures, his own film production… The Factory soon became a center for many “super” celebrities and artists, among others the Velvet Underground band and Nico, Bob Dylan, members of the Rolling Stones, etc. Andy Warhol has a place in the history of art as a versatile artist – a painter, sculptor, filmmaker, photographer, commercial illustrator, music producer, writer and even as a model. In 1996 the Andy Warhol museum was opened in his hometown of Pittsburgh. This is reputed to be the most complete American museum dedicated to a single artist. Feminist activist Valerie Solanos made an assassination attempt on Warhol on July 3rd, 1968 and seriously wounded him with a gunshot to the abdomen, which left him in extremely poor health for the rest of his life. He died after an operation of his gallbladder in 1987.
In 1974 Warhol created another series of still life, again inspired by a picture he didn’t see in nature, but this time he drew and painted them by himself, instead of using photographs. This (hand-colored) “Flowers” series based on images he found in a wallpaper catalogue called Interpretive Flower Designs, together with “Flowers (black and white)” shows Warhol’s fascination with line drawings, which emphasizes outline more than composition. The series contains ten silkscreens and they are much quieter, calmer and paler and much less common. A more personal approach to the prints also shows his illustrative style that reminds us of the very beginnings of his career when he was an advertisement illustrator, but his ability and skill here do not subside.