The inspiration for Cow 11 by Andy Warhol and the rest of the Cow series 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,” 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 used a bold color scheme of bright pink on yellow, which made the bovine animal a humorous and strangely exciting subject matter. Warhol printed the image on wallpaper, introducing this process to his creative production. This particular print was published for an exhibition at Leo Castelli Gallery in New York in 1966.
Cow 11 by Andy Warhol as Part of his Larger Body of Work
Cow 11 is the first of the four-color schemes in Warhol’s 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). This print in particular was published in 1966 for his show at the Leo Castelli Gallery in New York. The opening showed walls covered in wallpaper consisting Warhol’s 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.