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Sidewall, Happy Cow

This is a sidewall. It was created by Otmar Alt and designed by Otmar Alt and manufactured by Marburg Wallcoverings. It is dated 1971–72 and we acquired it in 1992. Its medium is flexograph printed on paper. It is a part of the Wallcoverings department.

In the early 1970s, Marburg Wallcoverings approached a diverse group of international artists to create wallpaper that would reflect the taste of the time. The company wanted to produce wallpaper that would be ornamental in itself and not act as a background for other objects. The artists were each commissioned to design papers that reflected their best-known work, and the results were produced as a series called Xart Walls.
Swiss artist, Jean Tinguely, designed a paper with depictions of machine parts on a metallic ground. French artist, Niki de Saint Phalle, illustrated her Nana figures in neon colors. Paul Wunderlich, a German artist known for the surreal imagery of his paintings, created a paper with the same effect, titled Drapery. A fellow German artist, Otmar Alt, translated his colorful language of form into a playful children’s paper, while a third German artist, Werner Berges, set his negative-space silhouettes of women’s faces against undulating columns of narrow stripes. British artist, Allan Jones, depicted a cartoon-like female figure, Right Hand Lady. Another British artist, Peter Phillips, many of whose paintings are inspired by advertising photographs, reflected those images in his wallpaper, Kenya. Testura Grafica, the wallpaper by the Italian constructivist, Getulio Alviani, shares a title with one of his large, geometric, brushed aluminum wall reliefs from the same period, Cubo a Testura Grafica.
The acquisition of these papers would be an important addition to our collection of artist-designed papers.
(May 18, 1992)

This object was featured in our Object of the Week series in a post titled The Happy Cow.

It is credited Museum purchase from Sarah Cooper-Hewitt Fund.

Its dimensions are

Platemark/repeat: 58 x 53 cm (22 13/16 x 20 7/8 in.)

Cite this object as

Sidewall, Happy Cow; Otmar Alt (German, b. 1940); Germany; flexograph printed on paper; Platemark/repeat: 58 x 53 cm (22 13/16 x 20 7/8 in.); Museum purchase from Sarah Cooper-Hewitt Fund; 1992-110-4

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<ref name=CH>{{cite web |url= |title=Sidewall, Happy Cow |author=Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum |accessdate=2 December 2022 |publisher=Smithsonian Institution}}</ref>