Cow 11A" stands out as one of Andy Warhol’s quartet of unique prints from the Cow Series. Unveiled in 1966 during the inauguration of his exhibition at Leo Castelli Gallery in New York, the vivid and unusually jubilant cow prints served as the exhibition's wallpaper.
Throughout his Pop Art journey, Andy Warhol consistently made waves, known for his audacious flair and divergence from the abstract. A core element of the sensation around his artworks was rooted in his unconventional subject choices. Warhol prompted viewers to embrace the idea that commonplace items, often seen in advertisements and stores, might also be worthy of artistic portrayal.
Esteemed art connoisseur Ivan Karp once lauded cows as "timeless symbols in art's tapestry," inspiring Warhol to paint them. Thus, the Cow collection marked a shift from Warhol’s previous endeavors. His earlier masterpieces compelled audiences to reevaluate prevailing definitions of artistic worth. Advancing this endeavor, the Cow artworks spotlight a mature Warhol with a signature style, keen on challenging conventional art subjects.
By diversifying the canvas of the Pop Art sphere, pieces like the Cow series further universalized Warhol’s artistic vision. His artistic process intentionally merged the realms of art and commerce. Just as he transformed celebrities into widely distributed silkscreens – a product ready for consumption, "Cow 11A" did likewise for a creature, which Ivan Karp fondly termed "delightfully bucolic." Perhaps Warhol's portrayal mirrors the cow's real-world commodification, raised en masse for consumption. This resonates with his renditions of other commodities, like the iconic Campbell’s soup – sometimes containing beef.
Yet "Cow 11A" sidesteps presenting the cow merely as a consumable. The print, with its subdued palette, juxtaposes a misty blue backdrop against a striking brown, evoking memories of children's tales. The artwork is whimsical, emphasizing humanity's innate connection to nature. It impeccably captures the essence that made Ivan Karp recommend the subject. Through Warhol’s lens, the cow undergoes a transformation, yet emerges authentically, blending the Pop Art vibe with Warhol’s commercial perspective, all the while maintaining its innate charm.
This Cow series was the first in Warhol's wallpaper ventures, later becoming a hallmark of his artistic endeavors. His exhibitions frequently featured vibrant wallpapers showcasing an array of subjects, but the Cow motifs were perennially distinguishable.
Warhol’s Cows were printed by Bill Miller’s Wallpaper Studio, Inc., in New York.