Last year, Arts & Equitainment brought you the scoop that the fourth plinth in London’s Trafalgar Square would sport the equestrian statue, Gift Horse by Hans Haacke in 2015. (Details here.) Now we are pleased to announce that the gift has arrived! Catch the unveiling by London’s Mayor Boris Johnson on March 5th here:
This 13-feet high bronze statue of a rider-less skeletal horse with an electronic stock ticker wrapped around one leg definitely makes a statement, and it is indeed already eliciting comments from onlookers. But what is less clear is whether they get the message.
Surely Mayor Johnson does not, enthusiastically claiming that the work “encapsulates the dynamic mix of history and the contemporary that makes London such an exciting cultural capital.”
Another Londoner, and obvious equestrian art aficionado, does better, telling CNN, “I just think it’s very witty. I can see the (George) Stubbs influence. And I love the Stock Exchange (ribbon) scrolling round and the way they merge into each other.”
Meanwhile, Toni from Switzerland had different take. This visitor said to CNN, “My first impression was that it looked like an alien, because you see it and then you think, huh? What is it?” This sentiment was echoed by a female day-tripper from Wales, who said “It definitely doesn’t look like a horse’s head, does it? Looks more dinosaur-ish to me.”
Okay, so perhaps many people are not as familiar with the skeletal structure of a horse as are you, I or the famously skilled painter, George Stubbs. After all, he literally wrote the book on The Anatomy of the Horse and served as an inspiration for this horse sculpture. But mistaken identity aside, what is the real meaning behind Gift Horses?
For that story direct from the horse’s – er- creator’s mouth, we direct you to The Guardian’s in depth interview with Hans Haccke here: Horseplay: What Hans Haacke’s Fourth Plinth Tells Us About Art and the City. However, in the end art is as much about what is intended as it is about how it is received, so I ask you: What do you think?