ANDY WARHOL "COW" SCREENPRINT, 1971

Humor, appropriation, campy mischief, banality...these are some of the key and best ingredients that make a Warhol work memorable.  

For the legendary Pop artist, whose career is arguably best known for portraits of glamorous icons (and subversive soup cans), cows may seem an unlikely subject - but it's this particular divergence from his usual subjects that was the impetus behind the Cow series' inception.

In 1966, Warhol placed himself at the forefront of art's future by boldly declaring painting to be "dead". Warhol sought new means of production (and mass production) for his art, leading him to establish his own printing house: Factory Additions. 

That same year, legendary Pop art dealer Ivan Karp, of the Leo Castelli Gallery, 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."  Then one of Warhol's printers, Gerard Malaga, who was also a photographer, gave him the cow image for the print. Warhol accepted the challenge, filtered through his own unique vision (of course), and the Cows were born. 

One of the first print series Warhol developed was Cows. A vibrant, neon-hued subject last embraced in the 19th century. Each Cow screenprint was printed on wallpaper, adding a kitschy-decorative flair and transcending traditional printmaking practices. 

Warhol debuted his first Cow print at his exhibition in 1966 at the Leo Castelli Gallery. For the show, an entire room was covered in large-scale, floor-to-ceiling wallpaper featuring his neon pink and yellow cow. These cows were the first to be infused with Warhol's signature elements of portrait, mass commercial production, subversion of art tradition, and repetitive imagery in vibrant hues.

Five years later in 1971, Warhol expanded the Cows portfolio with three more vibrant color combinations. This particular Cow, with a reddish brown head against a blue background, was created for Warhol's exhibition at the Whitney Museum of Art in New York from May 1st-June 13th, 1971. 

Warhol's Cows also challenge the nature of art collecting and the popularity of banal pastoral art in homes, with art sometimes being treated like wallpaper. Warhol's wallpaper art unapologetically demands to be noticed. 

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"Cow" 

USA, 1971

Screenprint on wallpaper

From an unnumbered edition

45.5"H 29.75"W (framed)

Note: mounted, framed with plexiglass

Printer: Bill Miller's Wallpaper Studio Inc., New York

Publisher: Factory Additions, New York 

Very good condition.

Literature: Feldman / Schellmann "Andy Warhol Prints: A Catlogue Raisonné 1962-1987" Italy: 2003. 62-63.

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