Andy Warhol’s Flowers complete portfolio was printed in 1970 by Aetna Silkscreen Products, Inc., New York. The images in the portfolio are based off of a photograph by nature photographer Patricia Caulfield. The subject is the Mandrinette flower, also known as the hibiscus fragilis, which is known for its vibrant pink color and ethereal silhouette. The Mandrinette is an extremely rare native shrub found on the mountains of Mauritius, an island off the southeast coast of Africa. Andy Warhol made various prints of the flower, with each adaptation featuring the blooming petals in a myriad of colors.
The image of the Mandrinette was appropriated by Warhol from Caulfield’s photograph of hibiscus blossoms which had appeared in the June 1964 issue of Modern Photography. Prior to completing the Flowers complete portfolio, Warhol created a set of large-scale paintings of the flowers, which were first shown at a sold-out exhibition at the Leo Castelli Gallery in New York in 1964. The show comprised of densely hung canvases of flowers in various sizes and brilliant Day-Glo hues.
Despite the success of Andy Warhol’s Flowers, once Caulfield saw the portfolio, she quickly sued Warhol for his use of her copyrighted image. Though the artist offered two sets of his Flowers screenprints as payment, Caulfield declined and a cash settlement was arranged. “Andy realized that he had to be very careful about appropriating for the fear of being sued again. He opted to start taking his own photographs. His entry into photography vis-a-vis his creation of silkscreen paintings was done out of necessity” (G. Malanga, quoted in The Andy Warhol Museum (ed.), Andy Warhol Photography, Pittsburgh, 1999 p. 116). The Flowers complete portfolio includes FS II.64-73.