The concept isn't original to Madrid. The Cow Parade public art exhibition in Chicago in 1999 featured 300 fiberglass cow figures painted or decorated by prominent artists, then displayed in strategic locations all over the city. The project had started in Zurich a year earlier, but was soon picked up by other world cities, including London, Milan, Monaco, Moscow, New York, Paris, Sao Paolo and Tokyo.
Here in Manila, the Inquirer adopted the same tack, though on a smaller scale, when it commissioned 20 leading Filipino artists to dress up life-size figures of Guyito, the paper's carabao mascot, on the occasion of its 20th anniversary in 2005.
These days, to visit Madrid is to see 105 gaily decorated vacas everywhere, from the airport grounds to the city's vast squares, palace courtyards, parks and boulevards, along street corners and mall entrances. The cheeky, often-whimsical art painted on them bears such names as “Cowrnival,” “Midnight Runner,” “Milk on the Rocks,” “Titanic Cow,” “Vaca World Champion,” “Vaca Sandwich,” “Vaca Muuusical.”
There's even a cow called “Manila,” by the artist Segundo Leria Garcia, located at S5 Calle Velasquez/Don Ramon de la Cruz. Unfortunately, we didn't have time to swing by the place and check it out.
A girl poses for a photo beside one of the cows installed in Plaza de Oriente, the courtyard located at the eastern side of the Royal Palace, seen in the background. [Click on photo to enlarge.]
This cow, at Plaza de Santa Ana, is by the artist Santiago Jaen. I can identify it from the accompanying Spanish-language brochure because it's the only cow sculpture found in this park, which is ringed by some of the city's trendiest and most expensive tapas bars. Note the building in the background--the historic Teatro Español, with a banner announcing a Hamlet to be played by a female actor.
The enthusiasm of the girl can only be explained by one thing: She's a shopaholic, and the bold red cow (by Jose Luis de No and Cesar Gomez) is her badge of affirmation. “Las Revacas” is a play on the word “Rebajas”--Spanish for “Sale.” It's sale season in Madrid now, and--naturalmente--this cow, located at C5 Calle Preciados/Puerta del Sol, stands by the entrance to a huge outlet of Spain's largest chain of shopping malls, El Corte Ingles (literally, “English Style”). Ole!