Title: Cow (FS II.12A)
Medium: Screenprint on Wallpaper.
Size: 45 1/2″ x 29 3/4″
Edition: Stamped; In blue ink, “Authorized by The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts” and “The Estate of Andy Warhol”; with Andy Warhol Foundation inventory number written in pencil (all verso)
It is hard to imagine that this simple screen print of a New Jersey cow played a big role in Andy Warhol’s career. Warhol did not have any real interest in cows, in fact Ivan Karp was the one to suggest the subject matter and Gerard Malanga, Warhol’s printer chose the photograph. Ultimately, it was what Warhol did with this image that made the final product so interesting and inviting. He chose to use his bright and aggressive color scheme, which gave the humorous impression that Warhol was printing a cow on an acid trip, in order to create a kind of chaos within a mundane image. It was during this time that Warhol furthered his role as the “Prince of Pop” and decided to take a public stand against painting, a medium in which he had previously been utilizing. He wanted to create an educational experience for the viewers, showing them what you can do with the screen-printing process, as opposed to the conventional methods of painting used at the time.
Cow 12A as Part of Andy Warhol’s Larger Body of Work
Cow 12A is the last of the four-color schemes in Warhol’s Cow series. This particular color-schemed print was published for an exhibition at The Modern Art Pavilion in Seattle, Washington in November, 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). Although Purple Cow was created in 1976, it was an extension of his second show at the Leo Castelli Gallery in Los Angeles in 1966. 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 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.