Andy Warhol Kiku (F & S II.307-309)Facts | History | Meaning
Catalogue Title: Kiku (F & S II.307-309) Year: 1983 Size 19.625” x 26” 49.8 x 66cm Medium: Portfolio of three screenprints on Rives BFK paper Edition: Edition of 300, 30 AP, 3 PP, 5 EP, signed and numbered in pencil lower left, except II.309 signed in pencil lower right and numbered in pencil lower left.
Andy Warhol Kiku (F & S II.307-309)Meaning & History
Kiku is a rare and beautiful example of Warhol’s engagement with the aesthetics of Asian culture: each print depicts Kiku, the Japanese word for chrysanthemum flower, realised in a twilight colour palette.
Kiku is a portfolio of three screenprints published for a Tokyo Museum, the Gendai Hanga Center, in 1983. It is a rare and beautiful example of Warhol’s engagement with the aesthetics of Asian culture: each print depicts Kiku, the Japanese word for chrysanthemum flower, realised in a twilight colour palette.
The Chrysanthemum flower permeates Japanese culture as both an official and decorative symbol: it is appears as the insignia on Japanese passports and as applique on kimono garments. Symbolically, the Kiku is associated with longevity, royalty and perfection. Real-life chrysanthemums are commonly found in white, yellow, pink yet here, Warhol imagines them in blue and fuschia, with a blue and purple gradient background, infusing the flowers with mystical colours in line with their purported properties.
Flowers frequently appear as a motif in Warhol’s work, a counterpoint to his famed output of celebrities and consumerist objects. His 1970 portfolio appropriated photographs of Hibiscus flowers taken by Patricia Caulfield for Life magazine. Indeed, floriography, or the language of flowers, serves as a plentiful resource for art, as each species of flower can be seen to have unique associations to feeling and symbolism. Warhol, reclaimant of symbols extraordinaire, appropriates imagery that is ubiquitous in culture – in this case the Japanese chrysanthemum, and refashions it in his own artistic language. The artist makes natural unnatural, and the everyday otherworldly.
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