Gift Horse in Trafalgar Square

There’s a skeleton in Trafalgar Square.

Trafalgar Square- Whole thing

Since 1999 the plinth in the northwest corner of Trafalgar Square has been used as a temporary location for a series of artworks.  Remember the blue chicken which was the subject of my 2013 blogpost?  Last month the chicken was replaced by Hans Haacke’s “Gift Horse”.

Trafalgar Square- Head

Here is the description of Gift Horse from the Mayor of London’s website.

“Hans Haacke’s Gift Horse depicts a skeletal, riderless horse – a wry comment on the equestrian statue of William IV originally planned for the plinth.

Tied to the horse’s front leg is an electronic ribbon displaying live the ticker of the London Stock Exchange, completing the link between power, money and history.

The horse is derived from an etching by George Stubbs; the famous English painter whose works are represented in the National Gallery at Trafalgar Square.”

Trafalgar Square- Tickertape

I loved the chicken, but Gift Horse does something that previous plinthworks didn’t – it complements and enhances one of the older statues in the square.  Gift Horse is the best thing to happen to King George the Fourth and his horse since they rode on to the neighbouring plinth in 1843.

Trafalgar Square- George IV 2

Finally, here is one more photo from Trafalgar Square, with my camera at maximum zoom.  I guess everyone knows that the column in the middle of the square is topped by Admiral Horatio Nelson, the British Naval officer who died in 1805 at the Battle of Trafalgar.  But have you ever seen Nelson close up?  Or wondered why he has a rope up there with him? Maybe it’s for abseiling down again.

Trafalgar Square- Nelson

 

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14 Comments Add yours

  1. linnetmoss says:

    That’s quite a rope up there with Nelson! You must be right–he uses it to get down during the wee hours so he can roam the streets of London 🙂
    I love the gift horse, except for the stock ticker ribbon, which seems incongruous.

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    1. Karolyn Cooper says:

      Incongruous yes, but the stock ticker must mean something – I’m just not sure what. Maybe it suggests that capitalism is destructive, turning the country and its people into a skeleton? Or that we can only have art if someone is prepared to pay for it? Who paid for the statues in the square, and the paintings in the National Gallery on the north side of the square? The fourth plinth was empty for a century because there were insufficient funds for the statue originally planned for it.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. linnetmoss says:

        Hmm, that could be the reason. The eternally ambiguous relationship between art and commerce.

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  2. Kim in Fiji says:

    I enjoy the sculptures so much – thanks for posting them and the explanations. As for that skeletal horse’s head ….. I saw a horse’s skull and it looked very much like that. So creepy what a beautiful horse looks like without its muscle and pelt…

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    1. Karolyn Cooper says:

      If the sculptor ever reads this, I think he will be pleased with your comment. You’re not just saying “yuk, creepy”, but “yeah, accurate”.

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  3. Brilliant photos (as usualy from you) Thanks for brightening up my day! xxx

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    1. Karolyn Cooper says:

      How do you feel about street art/graffiti? Would that brighten up your day too? I’m sorting through the photos now, to make my next post.

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  4. willowilliams says:

    Loved this – and it reminded me of my hour on the 4th Plinth in 2009, as part of Antony Gormley’s One & Other project. Thanks for the memories!

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    1. Karolyn Cooper says:

      What did you do on the 4th Plinth? Did you enjoy your hour there? I wonder if they’ll ever do a project like that again.

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      1. willowilliams says:

        What didn’t I do! I tried to cram in too much. As an artist I thought I would take advantage of having my work as close to the National gallery as it would ever get, so had a minor ‘exhibition’ of prints and threw some off with a list of favourite charities on the back, so the recipients might send a small donation if they wished. I also made a small plaster cast from one of my moulds – and threw off condoms and AIDS/HIV related literature! (I’m a volunteer at my local HIV support group). It was a fabulous experience and over all too quickly.

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        1. Karolyn Cooper says:

          That all sounds wonderful – art and health and giving all combined.
          My post from 2013 contains links to my favourite One&Other hour – Gerald Chong and his monster stomping on London https://distantdrumlin.wordpress.com/2013/09/26/big-blue-chicken-of-london/

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          1. willowilliams says:

            Thanks for the link – I’ll check it out

            Like

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