The inspiration for Andy Warhol’s Cows came from Ivan Karp, an instrumental art dealer in the 1960s. Karp once said to Warhol, “Why don’t you paint some cows, they’re so wonderfully pastoral and such a durable image in the history of the arts.” Gerard Malanga, one of Warhol’s printers and collaborators, was the one who chose the photograph of the cow. But ultimately, it was what Warhol did with this image that made the final product so interesting. He uses bold high contrast colors, which make the bovine animal a humorous and strangely exciting subject matter. Warhol printed the image on wallpaper.
Between 1966 and 1976, Warhol created the Cows with different color schemes: 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). The Cow artworks include FS II.11, FS II.11A, FS II.12 and FS II.12A. Revolver gallery is also in possession of a rare 1971 pink and green cow print, which was made during the last days of the Andy Warhol Exhibition at the Whitney Museum in 1971.
Cow as Part of Andy Warhol’s Larger Body of Work
Warhol’s full Cow series was produced between 1966 to 1976. Cow 11 was the first iteration, published in 1966 for his show at the Leo Castelli Gallery in New York. The Cow artworks represented Warhol’s formal effort to introduce the production of wallpaper into his creative repertoire. The exhibit showed walls covered in wallpaper consisting of Cow 11. Every inch of wall space from floor to ceiling on each wall was covered in these portraits. 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. The wallpaper was used twice more to line the walls of Warhol’s show.