Rumors of War Stands Tall in Times Square

Rumors of War Rachel Papo for The New York Times

This is the season for new equestrian statues in New York City. I wrote recently about the three new horse sculptures (The Horses) at then entrance to Central Park, now artist Kehinde Wiley has unveiled his largest sculpture ever, Rumors War, in Times Square.

The installation is a massive three stories tall and is the artist’s response to the ubiquitous Confederate sculptures that populate the country, particularly in the South. In his interpretation, a young African-American man, dressed in urban streetware, sits a stride a massive horse that strikes a pose similar to traditional statues of Robert E. Lee and other confederate figures.

“The inspiration for Rumors of War is war—is an engagement with violence. Art and violence have for an eternity held a strong narrative grip with each other. Rumors of War attempts to use the language of equestrian portraiture to both embrace and subsume the fetishization of state violence. New York and Times Square in particular sit at the crossroads of human movement on a global scale. To have the Rumors of War sculpture presented in such a context lays bare the scope and scale of the project in its conceit to expose the beautiful and terrible potentiality of art to sculpt the language of domination.” Kehinde Wiley, The Gothamist

Wiley’s other notable works include the official portraits of Barack and Michelle Obama, unveiled at the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery in 2018.

The statue will be in Times Square, on Broadway between 46th and 47th Streets, for two months before being permanently installed in The Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, in Richmond, VA. That’s a heck of a big statue to move.

3 thoughts on “Rumors of War Stands Tall in Times Square

  1. The VMFA is on our gorgeous, yet shameful, Monument Avenue, on which we have monuments of Robert E. Lee, JEB Stuart, Jefferson Davis, Stonewall Jackson, Matthew Maury, & the anomalous famous Richmonder: Arthur Ashe. The Civil War monuments were erected fairly early, 1890 – 1929, but they definitely make a “not everyone is welcome here” statement. Mr. Wiley visited, saw the monuments, and erected his statue in response for our grand Avenue. I’m very honored and excited, but many Richmond natives are not.

  2. Thank you for doing a nice job on the horse. I think that, when they remove or take down objectionable monuments…for instance, if there was one of Nathan Bedford Forrest, that one should have been melted down.
    But they should at least, leave the horse!! Horses were slaves. Just as were black people. The horse was merely a means of transporting men and equipment. They took the brunt of war.
    If nothing else, all such monuments should remove the rider and leave the horse, because, had there been no horses, there would be no civilization as we know it.
    There are two quotes I”ve always kept at the forefront of my mind:
    “The roads of civilization are paved with the bones of horses.” and
    “Most of human history has been made by men on horseback.”

    1. I agree about the horses. The same hideous Ashats that brought us only misery, led millions of horses to their deaths here and abroad. Many were wild Horses once free and with their natural ways and families. The study of the wild horse and its natural history is like no other and it has its beginnings right here in North America. Something to be proud of along with other North American mammals not merely to be hunted but glorious in their own right- photographers know how to hunt them best!

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