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.