The inspiration for Warhol’s Cow 12A and the rest of the Cow series stems 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. Ultimately, it was what Warhol did with this image that made the final product so interesting. 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.
Cow 12A by Andy Warhol as Part of His 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 Cow 12A 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 series was his formal effort to introduce the production of wallpaper into his creative repertoire.