Gerhard Richter and Max Beckmann.
Warhol cropped Caulfield's photo to four blossoms and rotated it. The silkscreen paintings' day-glo colors flatten the hibiscuses into unrecognizability. Early reviewers identified them as anemones (New York Herald Tribune), nasturtiums (Village Voice), and pansies (ArtNews).
Pansies is relevant today, with the Flowers read as queer art. But pre-Stonewall they came to be identified with the floral motifs of 60s youth culture and with "flower power." The term was coined by Alan Ginsburg in 1965, so there too Warhol was ahead of the curve. "Flower Power" became the title of a famous 1967 news photograph by Bernie Boston, showing a Vietnam War protestor placing a carnation in the barrel of a rifle.
The original hibiscus photographer, Patricia Caulfield, sued Warhol in 1966. She and Warhol came to a settlement in which Warhol paid Caulfield a royalty on each Flowers painting and gave her two paintings, one to pay her attorney. The settlement allowed Warhol to keep using the Flowers image, and he did.
The MOCA painting is evidently one of the group created for Warhol's first Leo Castelli show in Nov. 1964. Twenty-eight two-foot paintings were displayed in a 4-by-7 grid, consciously echoing the Ferus Gallery showing of the Soup Cans. The two-foot canvases were shown with larger paintings measuring 48 and 82 inches square. (Below is Rudy Burckhardt's photo.)
a five-footer Flowers (1964) in the Broad Collection and a ten-footer (1967) at the San Diego Museum of Contemporary Art.
Open This End (1962). Only Flowers exemplifies the mature Pop style.
With all the fanfare given buzzy new private museums, it's welcome news when collectors support L.A.'s public museums. Given the importance of the Looker gifts to MOCA and LACMA, it's amazing how little attention they've received. Also on view at MOCA is another recent Looker donation, Joseph Kosuth's '215 Twice (+216., After Augustine's Confessions)', 1990. St. Augustine's meditation on identity and duplication makes an interesting comment on Warhol v. Caulfield.