Controversy erupts over Wall Street statue
Art | Sculptor of famous ‘Charging Bull’ says new art installation radically changes the tone of his piece
by Gertrude Too-Rom
Posted 4/20/17, 11:41 am
NEW YORK—A public art controversy is brewing on Wall Street. New York Mayor Bill de Blasio has denied Arturo di Modica, the sculptor of the famous “Charging Bull” statue, his request to remove the new “Fearless Girl” statue installed facing the bull.
The “Charging Bull” monument has stood alone on Wall Street since 1989. But in March, a bronze statue of a small girl appeared, facing down the bull. The “Fearless Girl,” sculpted by Kristen Visbal, was supposed to stand in front of the bull for a few days, but now city officials say it may stay long-term.
An emotional di Modica told reporters the girl negatively changes his artistic meaning for the bull, which was designed to represent “freedom, peace, strength, power, and love.”
In 1989, di Modica built and installed the monument with his own money—and without permission. It was a gift to New York at a time when the stock market was crashing, and then-Mayor Ed Koch elected to keep the bull–which has since become an icon.
Financial investment company State Street Global Advisors (SSGA) commissioned the new statue and had it installed “to take steps to increase the number of women” on corporate boards.
During an interview with local radio station WNYC, de Blasio called the bull a celebration of unfettered capitalism.
“I think the artist has to recognize that times change. The people want to see things that represent their lives and their realities,” de Blasio said. The new statue represents “the empowerment of women. It’s been incredible—the response people have been feeling to it,” he added.
On a sunny Tuesday afternoon, the tiny area around both statues was awash with a crowd of about 70 people, cars whizzing by on either side. Some crowded around the bull and some around the girl, phones and cameras out to capture the moment.
“We’re going to defend ‘Fearless Girl’ and her right to be there … particularly at this moment in history,” the mayor affirmed.
The artist has threatened a lawsuit.
Gertrude is a WORLD intern based in New York.