The bird has landed. A big cock stands proud on 4th plinth

French Hen

 

 

 

 

 

Since its use as a location for new art began in 2005, the fourth plinth in Trafalgar square has quietly become one of the most highly-prized places for an artist to exhibit.

And you can see why whenever new work appears in the square. 

This week the German artist Katharina Fritsch unveiled her sumptuous 14ft aqua-marine blue cockrell called Hahn/Cock on this highly sought-after public art plinth. (Hahn being the German word for cock).

What strikes you most is the powdery matt blue of the piece and it’s huge size. It towers over everything in the square, apart from the other statues of  George IV and Victorian generals Henry Havelock and Charles Napier, and noticeably Lord Nelson sitting on high on his column. But where it loses out on height it makes up for with its striking colour and its bold lively form. The other statues are of old men, this is a young healthy cock, in all its finery.

In true conceptual art style it is a play on many levels. Fritsch is known as a feminist artist and has given us something that she explains is about challenging the maleness of the square, not with a female object but with a male animal by a female. A male object called a cock. Sniggery joke or mastersrtoke of feminine fight back? In other interviews she has said it represents male posturing while at the same time representing regeneration, awakening and strength.

Oh the cockiness of it all, and how fitting to have a blue cock what with with the Tories running London and almost running the country too (officially a coalition with the Lib Dems).

Sadly for Fritsch the bird was unveiled by everyone’s favourite boffoon Boris Johnson, who couldn’t find it in him to call a cock a cock unveiling it as a “big blue ……bird.”

Not that we can rely on Boris as a journalist but in his speech he said that Fritsch told him the piece is “all to do with a woman’s rendition of a man.” So now we know.

So does the cock work?

Well, when I went to look there were a score or so members of the public happily taking pictures of it. Women – probably in on the joke – seemed particularly excited about it.

For myself I enjoy its shock value, but it’s fairly tame and no-where near as shocking as Marc Quinn’s Alison Lapper Pregnant statue, which was first to take the spot in 2005.

But it has a farmyard sensiblity to it which is nice to see in the urban jungle that is central London and it has a powdery blue form which you hope the rain will eat into (it won’t of course). So as something new it’s pretty original and nicely made, if somewhat easy to forget.

Students of the fourth plinth will remember Mark Wallinger’s Ecce Homo a wonderful Christ-like figure taking the spot in 2007. In this video Wallinger says that it was wonderful to “have work seen by the public that was not mediated by an art institution.” He also says that for an artist it is a painful process to see the work come down months later: “I was mentally preparing myself for that unpleasant process.”
Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: