The screen print Cow (F. & S. II.11A), from Andy Warhol’s Cow portfolio (1966-76), shows a grainy, screen printed image of a cow’s head, coloured in light orange and completed with a light purple background. Each rendered in unique, vivid colour schemes, the four Cow paintings were originally published for display at an exhibition in The Modern Art Pavilion in Seattle in November 1976.
Warhol appropriated a photograph chosen by his printer Gerard Malanga to create the screen print, through which he experimented with a range of techniques and colour to form the entire series. As a further reiteration of the print, Warhol decided to print the Cow series onto wallpaper, directly playing into the notion of high art as a saleable commodity and bringing the value of fine art into question. Subsequently the print has been installed directly onto the walls of galleries and museums, including at Warhol’s 1966 show at the Leo Castelli Gallery.
In stark contrast to the artist’s portraits of celebrities and products of mass-consumerism in America, this print depicts a more universal and mundane subject to create a humorous and playful image. The vivid colour contrasts and repetition of subject has been said to subvert the mundane subject and allude to the amusing idea of a cow on an acid trip.