Jean-Marie Appriou: The Horses arrived on the Doris C. Freedman Plaza this month, following Mark Manders: Tilted Head. Curated by Public Art Fund Curator, Daniel S. Palmer, the massive equine sculptures stand like surreal sentinels at the entrance to Central Park.
The artist was inspired by the horses nearby who pull tourists in carriages through the city and by Augustus Saint-Gaudens’s gilded monument of William Tecumseh Sherman on horseback just opposite this site at Grand Army Plaza.
As you can see by the image above, the new Public Art Fund installation is as popular with adults and children ~ locals and tourists, as the historic horse and carriages that, to this day, can be seen within the Central Park.
Appriou’s sculptures poetically reimagine the species. The artist carved clay and foam models to cast in aluminum, emphasizing the tool marks and fingerprints of his tactile process. The works’ jagged textures and silvery surfaces create a dynamic play of light and shadow as we move around them, emphasizing the hallucinatory qualities of their composition and imbuing them with a dreamlike energy.
Above and below are a few closeup images of ‘The Horses’ showing beautiful detail. Appriou (b. 1986, Brest, France) has fashioned the forms of The Horses as fantastical beasts with hybrid characteristics and human qualities, placing them in a long tradition of mythological animal artworks.
With their curious compositions and titles, these horses suggest: a daunting gateway formed by an armor-clad warrior (Le Guerrier/The Warrior), a forest of legs of entwined lovers (Les Amants au Bois/The Lovers in the Woods), and a sphinx-like mystic seated on its haunches and draped in an embellished cape (Le Joueur/The Player).
They encourage us to make our own imaginative associations and to reconsider how civic sculpture addresses its public. Rather than an equestrian statue upon an elevated pedestal, these horses invite audiences through them, under them, and around them – bringing us closer to the formal dynamism and psychic mystery of these majestic creatures.
Jean-Marie Appriou: The Horses, curated by Public Art Fund, will be on view at the Doris C. Freedman Plaza (Fifth Avenue at 59th Street) through August 30, 2020.