Not sure where to start? Guy Allen is a British printmaker who draws upon imagery from the animal world to create beautifully detailed etchings. His piece Highland Cow is a beautiful example of cow art, with an earthy colour scheme that’s reminiscent of the wilderness of the Scottish Highlands.
If you’re a fan of photography, then take a look at award-winning fine art and travel photographer Andrew Lever. His black and white image The Bull is an impressive piece that makes a strong impact through its stark use of contrast and the head-on perspective of this beautiful creature.
As one of the most important animals in agriculture that we have long depended upon for survival, cows have a unique relationship to humans that has often been explored through art. At different points in history and in different cultures, cows have come to represent themes as diverse as life, wealth, and the divine. In fact, some of the world’s earliest known artworks are depictions of cattle. The cave paintings on the walls of Lascaux in France show these animals, and there is even a dedicated ‘Hall of Bulls’ where you’ll find the largest animal discovered in cave art, a 5.2 metre long bull. Since then, artists have created diverse kinds of cow art, representing these creatures in a variety of different lights to express diverse ideas and themes.
Perhaps the most celebrated American folk artist, Warren Kimble creates charming paintings that showcase rural life in New England. With a simple colour palette, clean lines and minimalist composition, Kimble creates giant canvases that evoke the serene feel of the New England countryside. Many of these paintings feature cows as a central subject, often painted much larger than they appear in real life, creating a surreal effect as they tower over the farm buildings and trees around them.
Cow art does not necessarily mean charming pastoral paintings, however. Artists have also created highly conceptual works using cows as a central subject. Take Damien Hirst, for example, whose piece Mother and Child (Divided) shows two halves of a cow and calf that have been preserved in formaldehyde. This work subverts the traditional image of mother and child, that of the Virgin Mary and baby Jesus. The mother cow is separated from her child in this heart-breaking contemporary artwork, as opposed to traditional Christian imagery that shows a joyful unity between mother and son.