13 years of public art on the Fourth Plinth celebrated

04 December 2012

Tracey Emin, Antony Gormley, Anish Kapoor, Marc Quinn and Rachel Whiteread featured in Fourth Plinth Exhibition for ICA




The Mayor of London in partnership with the ICA presents an exhibition surveying the Fourth Plinth, one of the most celebrated art commissions in the world, from 5 December 2012 – 20 January 2013.


The exhibition, Fourth Plinth: Contemporary Monument brings together a wide range of historical material including the full set of 21 commissioned maquettes made by some of the most celebrated artists working today. The timely review will be a unique opportunity for the public to explore the development of the Fourth Plinth programme, from its inception to its current position as a world class art commission.


Artists included are Chris Burden, Allora & Calzadilla, Sokari Douglas Camp, Jeremy Deller, Elmgreen & Dragset, Tracey Emin, Katharina Fritsch, Brian Griffiths, Hew Locke, Stefan Gec, Antony Gormley, Anish Kapoor, Sarah Lucas, Mariele Neudecker, Marc Quinn, Thomas Schütte, Yinka Shonibare, Bob & Roberta Smith, Mark Wallinger, Rachel Whiteread and Bill Woodrow.


The Mayor of London, Boris Johnson said: 'I am immensely proud to support the Fourth Plinth, which has become a must-see cultural attraction for London, one that underpins the capital's status as a great world city for art. Just a few minutes walk away from Trafalgar Square itself, this exhibition promises a fascinating journey through the work of some of the best international artists working today.'


Gregor Muir, ICA Executive Director, said: ‘The ICA is delighted to work in partnership with the Mayor of London to present an extraordinary exhibition of Fourth Plinth proposals in the form of maquettes produced by some of the most important artists of our time. It’s incredibly exciting to be bringing together all these proposals to show in the one space. It’s fascinating to see how artists have responded over the years.’


The empty plinth on the north-west terrace in Trafalgar Square was originally designed for an equestrian statue as part of Sir Charles Barry's design for this now iconic public space. The latest commission, Powerless Structures, Fig. 101 by artist duo Elmgreen & Dragset, marks the eighth sculpture - in a 13 year history of provocative artworks - to be sited on the plinth.


The iconic architecture of Trafalgar Square will be reflected in the ICA exhibition through specially designed stepped display structures and carefully orchestrated sightlines drawn across the gallery. The viewer is invited to examine each maquette individually as well as part of an impressive group.


Fourth Plinth: Contemporary Monument will bring together two important aspects of the programme. The maquettes will form an engaging landscape surrounding a core of specially selected material from the archives housed at the Royal Society for the Arts and the Mayor of London’s offices at City Hall. The archive emphasises the public’s role in the programme and will contain comments from tourists in the square, media clippings, quotes from artists and the thoughts of various high profile Londoners who have been involved in the programme such as Prue Leith, Jon Snow and Sir John Mortimer.


Alan Davey, Chief Executive, Arts Council England, said: ‘The Arts Council is pleased to support the Fourth Plinth Programme, which gives people the opportunity to enjoy great art produced by some of the best artists around today. From the moment the first commission was unveiled, the Fourth Plinth became one of the most talked about public art commissions in the country and this exhibition at the ICA will give people a rare chance to see – in one place – the shortlisted art works that have been considered for the plinth over the past 13 years.’


A programme of live events will explore the role of public art including a round table discussion with selected artists.

Notes to editors

The Fourth Plinth Programme


The Mayor of London’s Fourth Plinth Programme is the most thought-provoking contemporary art prize in Europe. With support from Arts Council England the programme invites world class artists to make astonishing new works for the centre of the Capital City. The programme was initiated in 1998 by the RSA. In 2000 responsibility for Trafalgar Square was transferred to the Mayor of London and the Greater London Authority. www.london.gov.uk/fourthplinth


The Fourth Plinth Programme is led by the Mayor’s Culture Team, under the guidance of the Fourth Plinth Commissioning Group (FPCG). The FPCG recommends contemporary works for the Fourth Plinth. The first commission under the FPCG was Marc Quinn's Alison Lapper Pregnant, unveiled in a public ceremony in September 2005. It was followed by Thomas Schütte’s Model for a Hotel in 2007 and by Antony Gormley’s One & Other in 2009. Yinka Shonibare MBE’s sculpture Nelson’s Ship in a Bottle remained on the plinth until the end of January 2012 when it was de-commissioned from the plinth and re-installed outside the new Sammy Ofer Wing at the National Maritime Museum where it will remain on permanent display.


Katharina Fritsch’s Hahn / Cock, will be unveiled in 2013. Previous commissions have been Ecce Homo by Mark Wallinger (1999), Regardless of History by Bill Woodrow (2000) and Monument by Rachel Whiteread (2001).


Arts Council England has been a funding partner supporting the programme since 2003. The Arts Council champions, develops and invests in artistic and cultural experiences that enrich people’s lives. It supports a range of activities across the arts, museums and libraries – from theatre to digital art, reading to dance, music to literature, and crafts to collections. Great art and culture inspires us, brings us together and teaches us about ourselves and the world around us. In short, it makes life better. Between 2011 and 2015, it will invest £1.4 billion of public money from government and an estimated £1 billion from the National Lottery to help create these experiences for as many people as possible across the country.




The Fourth Plinth Commissioning Group


Ekow Eshun – Writer, Broadcaster (Chair)

Jo Baxendale, Visual Art, Arts Council England

Iwona Blazwick – Director, Whitechapel Gallery

Jan Boud - General Counsel, London Legacy Development Corporation

Mick Brundle – Principal, Arup Associates

Jeremy Deller – Artist

Tamsin Dillon – Head of Art on the Underground, Transport for London

Grayson Perry – Artist

Matthew Slotover - Co-director, Frieze Art Fair

Jon Snow – Broadcaster

Justine Simons – Greater London Authority (Director, Fourth Plinth Programme)

Institute of Contemporary Arts


The ICA, Institute of Contemporary Arts, is a not-for-profit, multi-disciplinary arts centre established in 1947 by a collective of artists, poets and writers to showcase and champion contemporary culture across the broadest range of art forms. Housing two galleries, two cinemas, a theatre, reading room, bookshop and café/bar, the ICA has been at the forefront of cultural experiment since its formation and has presented some of the most radical exhibitions, artists, films, music and thought to have shaped our world. It exists today as a committed proponent of contemporary arts practice and new ideas, presenting an international and contextualised programme of work in new and experimental frameworks across a variety of platforms. The ICA continues to foreground its own public art displays, as evidenced by the rooftop presentation of Room in London by internationally acclaimed artist Franz West, and our most recent off-site project Art Drive held in a multi-storey car park in Shoreditch.