In 1965, Warhol announced his retirement from painting to concentrate on making films. His exhibition at the Leo Castelli gallery in New York the succeeding year was conceived as a dramatic farewell to painting. More an installation than a conventional exhibition, it is re-created in the next two rooms.
The idea to use a picture of a cow’s head reportedly stemmed from a comment by the dealer Ivan Karp that no one painted pastoral scenes any more. Warhol’s response was to find a picture of a cow in an old agricultural magazine and have it silkscreened as wallpaper. By creating a walk-in, printed environment he subverted expectations of what an artwork should be.
A second room was filled with balloons pumped with helium, his Silver Clouds, made in collaboration with engineer Billy Klüver. Warhol commented ‘I thought that the way to finish off painting for me would be to have a painting that floats, so I invented the floating silver rectangles that you fill up with helium and let out of your windows.’