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.