Writing a blog with the title of CabbieBlog I just had to feature this statue on John Carpenter Street near Blackfriars station. It depicts a bloke trying to hail a cab, hardly surprising he’s had no luck since 2014 as he’s hailing a taxi whilst facing onto a cycle lane, and yes I’ve had a few of those punters.
Taxi! is the obvious title of John Seward Johnson Jr.’s unusual 1983 bronze statue, and is unashamedly retro, with his baggy trousers, moustache and side parting. He was originally commissioned by the Chemical Bank Corp, the bronze is now owned by the J.P. Morgan Chase Art Collection and was formerly sited in New York before being moved to London after originally standing on Park Avenue and 47th Street in New York.
Like many of Johnson’s sculptures, this one of the six casts made by the American artist was originally painted all over, with a blue and red tie, the face flesh coloured, and the overcoat was a pale tan, making him eerily realistic. In Johnson’s New York Times obituary in 2020, it’s claimed that firefighters tried to ‘rescue’ another of Johnson’s statues following the 9/11 attacks, believing it to be a real man. Now, the London statue’s crisp white shirt is the only colour that remains.
Johnson inherited a fortune from the eponymous pharmaceutical company founded by his grandfather. ‘Taxi!’ is situated outside the former City of London School, which is now J.P. Morgan’s offices. With an ironic coincidence, it stands a stone’s throw from the world headquarters of their biggest competitor at Unilever House.