Shrigley’s thumb and Haacke’s horse win Trafalgar Square commissions

David Shrigley and Hans Haacke have been awarded the next two commissions for the Fourth Plinth in London’s Trafalgar Square.

David Shrigley's Really Good

Source: James O Jenkins

David Shrigley’s Really Good

Shrigley’s Really Good sculpture is a 10m-tall thumbs-up gesture which will be cast in the same patina as other bronzes in the square.

The vertiginous thumb looks like the kind of evolutionary wonder which only the progeny of a long bloodline of hitchhikers could possess, but it is in fact, in Shrigley’s eyes, a simple gesture, which will become ‘a self-fulfilling prophesy’.

Shrigley hopes that the things we consider ‘bad’ like maybe the economy, or the interminably inclement weather, will benefit from a change of consensus toward the positive.

It’s a beautifully simplistic and optimistic conceit, and if you imagine gazing up at what is in effect a beacon of confidence, it would be quite easy to feel good about things.

Shrigley with the Really Good maquette

Source: James O Jenkins

Shrigley with the Really Good maquette

The sculpture brings to life an old motif of Shrigley’s first explored as a drawing of three thumbs up, next to the sign Everything is Good.

Having seen the maquettes of the shortlisted entries in September last year the Shrigley design was a personal favourite, with Hans Haacke’s not far behind.

Haacke’s Gift Horse is a skeletal horse with no rider, which is a comment on the equestrian statue of William IV, originally planned for the plinth, but never built due to insufficient funds.

Gift Horse by Hans Haacke

Source: James O Jenkins

Gift Horse by Hans Haacke

A live ticker of the London Stock Exchange will be tied to the horse’s front leg to show the link between power, money and history.

Meanwhile the form of the horse is based on an etching by George Stubbs, the English painter who’s works feature in the National Portrait Gallery which faces Trafalgar Square.

Public voting and a closed judging process led to the decision made by the Fourth Plinth Commission which will see Gift Horse take to the plinth in 2015, followed by Really Good in 2016. 

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  • Lewis MacDonald November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

    Or alternative to that description, is it not a typically dark satire of Shrigley on the logic of Facebook?

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