Beauty Bovine, Nature Supreme
YONKERS, NY —The Hudson River Museum’s exhibition Got Cow? Cattle in American Art, 1820-2000 takes a lighthearted but serious approach to an animal that is a favorite subject for artists as well as an animal with immense popular appeal.
Got Cow? explores the cow’s appearance in over 65 works of painting, photography, sculpture, and drawing. This exhibition shows the animal in simple domestic scenes from19 th-century genre and folk art to 20 th-century idealized visions of American agriculture, and then to today’s sometimes startling commentaries on the cow.
The Cow — the Common Touch
The common touch of the cow and its link to nurture could doom its depictions to kitsch but artists both contemporary and classic have celebrated the cow’s endurance, solidity and bovine beauty. In Hudson River School paintings the cow suggests the gentle, civilizing hand of the farmer on the wild American landscape.
As the United States’ shifted its economy from farm to the factory, artists such as Andy Warhol and Roy Lichtenstein, attracted by the cow’s form and pattern, using it as a symbol of traditionalism in contemporary art. Got Cow? shows the cow’s role in art as a reference to mythology, literature, sexual stereotype, dreams, caricature, labor, and as a food source.
Today cows are favorite subjects of artists such as Janet Fish who combines humor and landscape in her trompe l’oeil painting, while Gloria Houng takes a serious view —picturing the cow’s innocence as a symbol of victimization, a creature displaced from its traditional environment by industry and blindly led to slaughter.
Among the artists represented in Got Cow? are Tom Althouse, Janine Antoni, Patricia Bellan-Gillan , George Bellows , Thomas Hart Benton, Samuel Colman, Currier and Ives, John Steuart Curry, Richard Deon, Lois Dodd, Rickstraw Downes, Thomas Eakins, John Whetten Ehninger, Tyler Fenn, Janet Fish, Leslie Galluzzo, Marshall Glasier, Red Grooms, Richard Haas, James M. Hart, Thomas Hewes Hinckley, Gloria Houng, William Henry Howe, George Inness, Neil Jenney, Luis Jimenez, Alan Kessler, Susan Leopold, J. C. Leyendecker, Roy Lichtenstein, Molly Luce, Paul Manship, Peter Max, George Herbert McCord, Diana Michener, Edward Moran, Don Nice, Didier Nolet, Alphonso Palumbo, Edith Mitchell Prellwitz, Robert Rauschenburg, Norman Rockwell, George Rodrigue, Immi Storrs, Louis Comfort Tiffany, Arthur Tress, Andy Warhol, and Neil Welliver
The exhibition, organized by the Hudson River Museum includes a color catalog.
Got Cow? Cattle in American Art 1820-2000 was made possible, in part, by a grant from the Charles and Mildred Schnurmacher Foundation, Inc. and an anonymous donor.
The Hudson River Museum is located at 511 Warburton Avenue, Yonkers NY. minutes from the Saw Mill River Parkway, exit 9, north or southbound.
Information and directions: 914.963.4550 and www.hrm.org.
Museum admission: Adults $5; Seniors 62 & older and children 5-16 $3. Fridays 5 to 8 pm to galleries and the planetarium free