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Andrzej Szymczyk, makes the horse the central star of his sculpture Dancing Horse. Andrzej blends careful anatomical study with subtle details and movements that allow the horse to convey a personality – its ears are pricked forward and its neck is slightly curved, as if the animal is curiously examining something to its left, while dancing around it. Szymczyk’s talent for capturing an animal’s spirit makes his work evocative and creates an instant emotional impact on the viewer.
Horses have been a familiar feature in sculpture across multiple eras, mostly in the form of military props with men positioned on their backs to look imposing and grandiose. But since the second world war, that template has been subverted by several artists who have used horses to communicate post-war anxieties or to ridicule conflict all together.
Italian sculptor Marino Marini was well-known for his horse sculptures which were originally calm and traditional. But in the aftermath of war, the position of both horse and rider drastically shifted. His horses’ ears would be pinned back; the animal’s expression of discomfort. Art critic Lucy Flint noted how in these post-war years, “the rider becomes increasingly oblivious of his mount, involved in his own visions or anxieties,” she said. “Eventually he was to topple from the horse as it fell to the ground in an apocalyptic image of lost control, paralleling Marini’s feelings of despair and uncertainty about the future of the world.”
Anthony Caro’s The Barbarians also puts a new twist of the traditional horse sculpture. His barbarians are life-sized sculptures made from wood, steel and vaulting horses which he found in a London junk shop. This new menu of materials turns the image of the warrior on horseback into something childish or comical, ridiculing the infantile urge to participate in war.
Find out more in our Guide To Sculpture.