Haacke and Shrigley Step Up to London’s Fourth Plinth




Sculptures by Hans Haacke and David Shrigley will be next to grace the Fourth Plinth in London’s Trafalgar Square. In early 2015, the northwest corner of the square will welcome Haacke’s Gift Horse, with Shrigley’s Really Good to follow in 2016.

Initially intended to display an equestrian statue of William IV, a lack of funding left the plinth, built in 1841, unadorned for over 150 years. That changed in 1999, when the Royal Society of Arts tapped three contemporary British artists to create work that would be temporarily installed on the empty pedestal. The current program, begun in 2005, is run by the Greater London Authority.

Gift Horse is a bronze sculpture of a horse skeleton that Haacke based on an etching by 18th century British painter George Stubbs. The sculpture will also feature an electronic ribbon displaying scrolling stock prices from the London Stock Exchange, tied around one of the horse’s front legs. In a press release, the Fourth Plinth commissioning group chair, Ekow Eshun, described the piece as “a reference to our history but also to the fact that money is the hidden dynamic that fuels our city for good or bad.”

Shrigley’s Really Good, also in bronze, depicts a hand making a thumbs up gesture. The sculpture, nearly 33 feet tall, is the first public art work by the 2013 Turner Prize finalist.

Previous commissions for the Fourth Plinth include Rachel Whiteread’s Monument (2001), Marc Quinn’s Alison Lapper Pregnant (2005-07), Yinka Shonibare’s Nelson’s Ship in a Bottle (2010-12) and Katharina Fritsch’s Hahn/Cock (2013-14).