Big Thumbs-Up, Dancing Cones Compete for London Plinth

A thumbs-up sculpture, a horse skeleton and dancing cones are competing for the vacant platform in London’s Trafalgar Square known as the Fourth Plinth.

David Shrigley’s “Really Good” is a model of a stretched thumb that the artist hopes to produce in bronze as a way of making “the world a better place.” It was presented in London today along with five other maquettes for the plinth.

Hans Haacke’s “Gift Horse” is an equine skeleton with an electronic London Stock Exchange ticker tied to its front leg. Liliane Lijn’s “The Dance” consists of two metallic cones with spinning components that make them look like dancers.

“Trafalgar Square is a center of performance in every possible way, and there are continual events going on in the square itself,” said Lijn of her gyrating cones, the first kinetic proposal for the plinth. “I thought bringing actual performing sculptures into the square would bring something completely new into it.”

Trafalgar Square’s vacant plinth is periodically filled by the winner of an art contest organized by the Mayor of London. Currently on display is Katharina Fritsch’s “Hahn/Cock,” a blue rooster symbolizing male-dominated Britain.

The next two winners will be announced early next year, and their work will appear on the plinth in 2015 and 2016 respectively, organizers said.

Moon Mask

The other artists shortlisted for the plinth are: Ugo Rondinone, with “Moon Mask,” a haunting mask cast in aluminum with square cavities for eyes; Marcus Coates, whose primitively shaped stone work is called “Unmade Monument;” and Mark Leckey, whose “Larger Squat Afar” is an anagram of Trafalgar Square and a mishmash of elements borrowed from the square’s other sculptures.

The plinth’s previous occupant was artist duo Elmgreen & Dragset’s bronze effigy of a boy on a rocking horse. “Powerless Structures Fig. 101” went up in 2012, the year of the London Olympic Games.

In 2009, sculptor Antony Gormley had 2,400 volunteers appear on the platform for 100 days as part of his project “One & Other.”

Muse highlights include Martin Gayford on art and Hephzibah Anderson on books.

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