Andy Warhol, ‘Cow (FS 11.11A)’, 1971, Revolver Gallery

The inspiration for Warhol’s Cow portraits came from Ivan Karp, an instrumental art dealer in the 1960s. Karp once told Warhol, “Why don’t you paint some cows? They’re so wonderfully pastoral and such a durable image in the history of the arts.” (POPism: The Warhol Sixties, p. 22) Gerard Malanga, Warhol’s printer, was the one who chose the photograph of the cow. But ultimately, it was what Andy Warhol did with this image that made the final product so interesting. For the colors, he used a light brown on a bold blue, that made the cow look like a playful storybook animal. Warhol printed the cow on wallpaper, introducing this process to his creative production. This particular print was published for an exhibition at the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York, 1971.

Signature: Signed; In blue ink by Andy Warhol

Cow 11A is the second of the four-color schemes in the Cow series produced from 1966 to 1976. The color schemes that Warhol published between 1966 and 1976 were Pink Cow on Yellow Background (1966), Brown Cow with Blue Background (1971), Yellow Cow on Blue Background (1971) and finally Pink Cow on Purple Background (1976). Warhol’s Cow wallpaper was his formal effort to introduce the production of wallpaper into his creative repertoire. The wallpaper was first printed in 1966 to paper the gallery walls for Warhol’s exhibition at the Leo Castelli Gallery. The opening of his exhibit showed walls covered in wallpaper consisting of repeated large fluorescent pink cow heads on a bright yellow background. Every inch of wall space from floor to ceiling on each wall was covered in these cow portraits. Gallery owner and dealer, Leo Castelli, was so moved by the show, that he went to such lengths as to have professionals install the wallpaper so that the guests could see the artist’s vision.

About Andy Warhol

Obsessed with celebrity, consumer culture, and mechanical (re)production, Pop artist Andy Warhol created some of the most iconic images of the 20th century. As famous for his quips as for his art—he variously mused that “art is what you can get away with” and “everyone will be famous for 15 minutes”—Warhol drew widely from popular culture and everyday subject matter, creating works like his 32 Campbell's Soup Cans (1962), Brillo pad box sculptures, and portraits of Marilyn Monroe, using the medium of silk-screen printmaking to achieve his characteristic hard edges and flat areas of color. Known for his cultivation of celebrity, Factory studio (a radical social and creative melting pot), and avant-garde films like Chelsea Girls (1966), Warhol was also a mentor to artists like Keith Haring and Jean-Michel Basquiat. His Pop sensibility is now standard practice, taken up by major contemporary artists Richard Prince, Takashi Murakami, and Jeff Koons, among countless others.

American, 1928-1987, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, based in New York, New York