Koolhaas and Warhol's Cow Wallpaper

Koolhaas on cows: "Until 1800 real cows grazed on the site of the first Waldorf. A hundred years later, the pressure of popular demand invests the concept of the cow with a technical dimension, producing the inexhaustible Cow on Coney Island, stiff and lifeless, but effective in its production of an endless flow of milk."

In 1935, Elsa Maxwell threw a farmyard party in the Waldorf, complete with Molly the Cow, a cow that milks champagne on one side and whisky and soda on the other. As Koolhaas writes, "Maxwell's farm completes a cycle, the super-refined infrastructure of the hotel, its architectural ingenuity, all its accumulated technologies together ensure that in Manhattan the last word is the same as the first."


Warhol does the same with his cow wallpaper shown at the Leo Castelli Gallery in 1966. Of course the wallpaper covers the gallery, but it also papers, like Christo, the skyscraper (Empire of 1964) and the hotel (Chelsea Girls of 1966). The super-refined infrastructure of Manhattan returns to its pastoral beginnings. The last word is the same as the first. Both Warhol and Manhattan speak with a stutter.


JB

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