Artlyst Podcast: Hans Haacke Discusses His Fourth Plinth Commission

Hans Haacke

Hans Haacke is a leading figure in the contemporary art world. His work crosses boundaries of Conceptual, Minimal, Pop and site specific Land Art. He is best known for his investigations into hidden economies and politics including that of the art world and the suppressed histories of people and places.

Mayor Boris Johnson along with Ekow Eshun, Chair of the Fourth Plinth Commissioning Group, and the German/US based artist Hans Haacke unveiled the latest commission for the Trafalgar Square programme. ‘Gift Horse’ by Hans Haacke which is the tenth sculpture to be unveiled on Trafalgar Square’s most famous plinth.

The work Looms like a dinosaur – ‘Gift Horse’ portrays a skeletal, riderless horse – a wry comment on the equestrian statue of William IV originally planned for the plinth. Tied to the horse’s front leg is an electronic ribbon displaying live the ticker of the London Stock Exchange, completing the link between power, money and history. The horse is derived from an engraving in The Anatomy of the Horse of 1766 by George Stubbs; the famous English painter whose works are represented in the National Gallery at Trafalgar Square.

Haacke has always had strong political, cultural and social convictions and this is reflected in the nature of his text works installations and sculptures. His controversial approach to subject matter has often landed him in hot water with exhibitions cancelled and artworks removed from group shows. The recent unveiling of his ‘Fourth Plinth’ commission ‘Gift Horse’ is no exception to the artist’s reputation to challenge our perceptions of public art.