Spotlight: How Andy Warhol’s Chrysanthemums Celebrated Japanese Culture


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What would you like to know: Although his Marilyns and Campbell Soup Cans are certainly more famous, Andy Warhol also loved a floral design, having once noticed, “I always notice flowers.” It has returned to the subject on several occasions, including in his colorful works “Flower”, a series “Poinsettias” from the early 1980s, as well as his series “Kiku” from 1983hrysanthemums (Kiku is the Japanese name for the flower). Warhol visited Japan twice in his life, first in 1956, on a trip around the world, and then in 1974 for a solo exhibition at the Daimaru department store. In 1983, Fujio Watanuki, champion of the Japanese avant-garde and founder of the Gendai Hanga Center in Tokyo, approached Warhol to create a work inspired by vshrysanthemums. In total for the “Kiku” series, Warhol created 300 portfolios of screen prints with three prints each. Shapero Modern, London’s must-see gallery for fine art prints and multiples, currently offers three works from the “Kiku” series.

Why we love it: Warhol’s “Kiku” works are of an intimate scale, made with the traditional size of Japanese living spaces in mind, and in that sense unique to Warhol’s work. Crafted in electric proportions of oranges, blues, reds and greens, the prints are both eye-catching and stylish, sometimes resembling bursts of fireworks. While maintaining its Pop aesthetic, the works are also deeply symbolic: the chrysanthemum is a centuries-old symbol of the Japanese Emperor and the Imperial Household (it is printed on Japanese passports), and also represents longevity, rejuvenation and fall season.

What the gallery says: This collection of works demonstrates Warhol’s global influence and popularity with Japanese collectors. In “Kiku”, the artist addresses his audience directly with his subject. These bold yet delicate images are luminescent examples of his skills as an engraver and colorist. With “Kiku” Warhol has produced a breathtaking array of images that are striking in their elegance. Characterized by bright colors and layered shapes, the wallet retains its vibrancy and impact even 35 years after its creation. Combining both abstraction and a naturalism that describes the shape of the flower, the series is a poetic representation of a flower, layered with symbolic meaning.

Andy warhol
Kiku (1983)
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Andy Warhol, Kiku (1983). Courtesy of Shapero Moderne.

Andy warhol
Kiku (1983)
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Andy Warhol, Kiku (1983).  Courtesy of Shapero Moderne.

Andy Warhol, Kiku (1983). Courtesy of Shapero Moderne.

Andy warhol
Kiku (1983)
Inquire for more information

Andy Warhol, Kiku (1983).  Courtesy of Shapero Moderne.

Andy Warhol, Kiku (1983). Courtesy of Shapero Moderne.

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