Cavalier Gallery is pleased to reveal the return of Hippo Ballerina. The iconic bronze sculpture, installed in New York City’s Pershing Square Plaza West located on the west side of Park Avenue between East 41st and East 42nd Streets in Midtown Manhattan. Created by Danish artist Bjørn Okholm Skaarup, the monumental sculpture will be accompanied by Hippo Ballerina, pirouette and Rhino Harlequin, pirouette permitted as part of the New York City Department of Transportation’s Art Program.
Hippo Ballerina, the beloved 2.5-ton copper tutu-clad bronze sculpture has become an icon of New York City after previous installations at Dante Park, the Flatiron South Public Plaza, and at the Girl Scouts of America Building. Standing at over 15 feet tall, the sculpture is inspired by Degas’ Little Dancer Aged Fourteen and the dancing hippos of Walt Disney’s Fantasia, and vividly illustrates Skaarup’s ability to reinterpret subjects and themes found in ancient myths, art history, modern animation, and contemporary popular culture.
“My animal sculptures are a celebration of life and nature and its many intriguing shapes and creatures,” said artist Bjørn Skaarup. “Each animal is thoroughly culturalized; representing human allegories or use manmade tools, all placed in peculiar and surreal encounters between nature and culture. The result is a group of bronze sculptures that combines the gracious and exclusive with the communicative, distorted, and humorous.”
Known for creating a contemporary bestiary, or classical book of animals in bronze, each sculpture presents a whimsical story or allegory to decipher, with sources ranging from ancient fables and art history to music and modern animation. Rhino Harlequin, pirouette and Hippo Ballerina, pirouette both hail from Skaarup’s Commedia dell’arte series and are his unique take on the Colombina and Arlecchino (Harlequin) characters.
“Skaarup’s animal sculptures are stunning examples of his ability to masterfully rework classical and historical elements into his sculpture,” said Ron Cavalier, President of Cavalier Galleries. “Just as Pershing Square Plaza represents the majesty of Grand Central as both an architectural and functional icon of the city, Skaarup’s unique sculptures add a magical element and will be wonderful companions to the thousands of passers-by who visit the plaza each day.”
“We are very excited that Pershing Square West Plaza will play host to Bjorn Skaarup’s sculptures from May until the winter holiday season,” said Fred Cerullo, the President and CEO of Grand Central Partnership, Inc. “These animated and entertaining sculptures will enliven the Plaza just as many more New Yorkers and visitors continue to return and visit the Grand Central neighborhood.”
Hippo Ballerina, Hippo Ballerina, pirouette, and Rhino Harlequin, pirouette will be located at Pershing Square Plaza West across from Grand Central Terminal beginning May 2 through December 2022. Smaller editions of Skaarup’s works can be found at Cavalier Galleries (3 W 57th Street, Floor 4, New York, NY 10019).
After December 2022, you will find Pirouette and Rhino Harlequin, along with a smaller (8-foot) Hippo Ballerina (pictured above) at 885 Second Avenue/One Dag Hammarskjold, NYC.