Cock Sure

The great thing about the Fourth Plinth is that for me, having run out of money when originally laying out a square, pragmatically the Plinth was left unadorned for over one-and-a-half centuries.

At the time of Trafalgar Square’s construction the founder of the modern police force, Sir Robert Peel described as “the finest site in Europe” (he presumably hadn’t been to Venice).

[T]he Fourth Plinth in Trafalgar Square has had its fair share of curios these past few years: a ship in a bottle; boy on a rocking horse; and as I saw one night, a man standing aloft practicing his golf swing.

The art work – a giant blue cock – that now surmounts the Plinth is a glorious anachronism of the Square’s other incumbents.

If asked to name its other statues most would say ‘Nelson’. Although he stands over 17 ft high we can only gaze up his not inconsiderable nostrils standing up on his lofty position. Cabbies might tell you of the world’s smallest police station in the square’s south-east corner, but who could name any of the other public figures adorning Trafalgar Square?

The three equestrian statues of 19th century notables standing on the other plinths on is of Sir Henry Havelock (he of Indian Mutiny fame) by William Behnes who so driven by debt and drink was literally found one night in the gutter with three pennies in his pocket. The second Sir Charles Napier had his statue paid for by the squaddies of the British Army, but the sculptor of King George IV’s statue Sir Francis Legatt Chantrey who had expected to receive £9,000 for his efforts, with the King promising to contribute one-third, died before receiving a penny.

So what does Katharina Fritsch’s Hahn/Cock mean? Well, it’s about as meaningless to 21st century Londoners as his equestrian companions he shares on this most famous plaza.

It might be a version of the French national symbol taunting Britain’s national hero, killed by the Frenchies at his moment of victory, or a statement about masculinity in all its absurdness.

But for me it’s just an incredibly stupid-looking farmyard animal painted in a beautiful blue and put there for no reason what so ever. Which among all London’s public statues, many of which we know nothing or care less about their identity, makes a refreshing change, and its intrinsic comedy makes me smile every time I pass.

6 thoughts on “Cock Sure”

  1. Yup, all of that – good post – and I agree that the BLUE CHICKEN is FUN! I was going to do a serious post of Hyde Park with Bradshaw in hand, but the weather was too good so I enjoyed the Park instead and the CHICKEN matched that mood!

    Like

  2. I’m no real art fan, just normal guy in street but do like how the 4th plinth has been used.

    Rumours for long time that when QEII dies, a monument to her would placed there. Ex mayor Livingstone hinted at this as well. I wouldn’t want to see this happen, firstly as she deserves a better monument on her own somewhere, maybe in Green Park, not given it any thought. But also, it would be a shame to lose this unique site.

    I saw the rocking horse and the ship as well, it’s a very random and British thing to do!

    (The ship is now just outside of the National Maritime Museum).

    Like

    1. I really like the quirkiness of the 4th Plinth to me it epitomises the English spirit.
      Thanks for the comment by the way

      Like

  3. I think a lot of high-profile modern artists are too easily pleased with their rather weak ideas. Too often, a work is described as “fun”, so much so that the term has become meaningless when applied to art. It seems to be code for “I didn’t have a purpose in creating this work and can’t give you a sensible reason for it, but if someone is silly enough to pay me for it, I’m not complaining”. I am sorry to see the organizers of the Fourth Plinth lending themselves to this silly game.

    I have seen some very good art in London, but it tends to be poked away in corners so that the artists’ names are hardly ever known. There seems to be an art Mafia that favours a certain group of artists, affording them exhibitions in London’s main galleries and publishing rave reviews in a jargon language largely empty of meaning. This group only has to fart in order to be exhibited and applauded.

    The result is that the public is turned off art. People think that they don’t understand art, and therefore don’t have the right to express an opinion. They do have that right and ought to express it in no uncertain manner. If they did, they might provoke a change in what is displayed and thus give a chance to proper artists, those who know what they are doing and why, and who produce something we can all appreciate and identify with.

    Like

    1. I could not agree more with your assertion that a small cabal of ‘artists’ dominates the art scene and many lesser known artists rarely get a look in. But I do still like the chicken.

      Like

Leave a Reply to SilverTiger Cancel 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

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.