Artists Hans Haacke and David Shrigley next for the Fourth Plinth

07 February 2014

Hans Haacke and David Shrigley were announced today as the winning artists of the next two commissions for the Fourth Plinth in Trafalgar Square. Their designs will be unveiled in 2015 and 2016 respectively.

Hans Haacke’s design Gift Horse depicts a skeletal, riderless horse - a wry comment on the equestrian statue of William IV originally planned for the plinth. Tied to the horse’s front leg is an electronic ribbon displaying live the ticker of the London Stock Exchange, completing the link between power, money and history. The horse is derived from an etching by George Stubbs, the famous English painter whose works are represented in the National Gallery at Trafalgar Square.

David Shrigley’s proposal Really Good will see a ten-metre-high hand giving a thumbs up. Cast so that it has the same dark patina as the other statues in Trafalgar Square, the thumb is disproportionately long. Shrigley’s ambition is that this simple gesture will become a self-fulfilling prophecy; that things considered ‘bad’ such as the economy, the weather and society, will benefit from a change of consensus towards positivity. The two artworks will be the 10th and 11th to appear on the Fourth Plinth since the commissioning programme, which is now funded by the Mayor of London and supported by Arts Council England, began in 1998.

The Mayor of London, Boris Johnson said: 'The commissioning group has chosen two very different sculptures to go on the Fourth Plinth, with each being wryly enigmatic in their own way. Our rolling programme of art continues to surprise, providing a contrast to its historic surroundings and giving Londoners and visitors alike another reason to visit Trafalgar Square.'

Ekow Eshun, Chair of the Fourth Plinth Commissioning Group said: ‘Hans Haacke and David Shrigley are artists of international repute with a clarity of vision that the Commissioning Group found exciting and inspiring. Gift Horse and Really Good are significant new works that contribute further to the development of the Fourth Plinth as one of the world's leading public art commissioning programmes. I am sure Londoners will take both sculptures to their hearts.'

Joyce Wilson, Area Director, London, Arts Council England, said: ‘Supporting the artistic commissions for the Fourth Plinth is one of the ways in which the Arts Council invests in the creation and display of exciting new, high quality contemporary art in public spaces. The large number of visitors to Trafalgar Square, from both near and far, makes it an ideal location to showcase new works and give everyone the opportunity to appreciate art that they may not normally see or have access to.’


Hans Haacke Born 1936 in Cologne. Lives and works in New York. For the last four decades Hans Haacke has been examining the relationships between art, power and money, and has addressed issues of free expression and civic responsibilities in democratic societies in his work. He works in many different mediums including painting, photography and written text. He has had recent solo exhibitions at Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, Madrid (2012); MIT List Visual Arts Centre, Cambridge, MA (2011); X-Initiative, New York (2009); and Akademie der Künste, Berlin (2006). Haacke’s work has been included in four Documentas and numerous biennials around the world. He shared a Golden Lion Award with Nam June Paik for the best pavilion at the 45th Venice Biennale (1993), and in 2000 he unveiled a permanent installation in the Reichstag, Berlin.

David Shrigley Born 1968 in Macclesfield. Lives and works in Glasgow. David Shrigley’s work draws on the British tradition of satire, creating drawings, animations and sculptures that reflect the absurdity of contemporary society. He has had recent solo exhibitions at Bradford 1 Gallery (2013); Cornerhouse Gallery (2012), Hayward Gallery, London (2012); Yerba Beuna Centre for the Arts, San Francisco (2012); and Kelvingrove Museum, Glasgow (2010). Shrigley’s Sort of Opera: Pass the Spoon was performed at Tramway, Glasgow, and Southbank Centre, London (2011 – 12), and he was nominated for the Turner Prize in 2013. 

Notes to editors

The Fourth Plinth Programme is the most talked about contemporary art prize in the UK. Funded by the Mayor of London, the programme invites world class artists to make astonishing new works for the centre of the capital city. An established icon for London, it has been referred to as ‘the smallest but most prominent sculpture park in the world’. The programme was initiated in 1998 by the RSA with the support of the Cass Sculpture Foundation.

In 1999 responsibility for Trafalgar Square was transferred to the Mayor of London and the Fourth Plinth Programme is now led by the Mayor’s Culture Team, under the guidance of the Fourth Plinth Commissioning Group (FPCG). Its first commission was Marc Quinn's sculpture Alison Lapper Pregnant, unveiled in 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 and now has a permanent home at the National Maritime Museum in Greenwich. Powerless Structures, Fig 101 by artist duo Elmgreen & Dragset was unveiled in 2012 and will be housed permanently at the Arken Museum of Modern Art, Denmark. Katharina Fritsch’s Hahn / Cock is the current commission, unveiled in July 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 significant funding partner of the programme.

The Fourth Plinth Commissioning Group: Jo Baxendale – Arts Council England Iwona Blazwick – Director of Whitechapel Gallery Mick Brundle – Principal, Arup Associates Jeremy Deller – Artist Tamsin Dillon – Head of Art on the Underground Ekow Eshun – Writer, Broadcaster (Chair) Grayson Perry – Artist Matthew Slotover - Co-director, Frieze Jon Snow – Broadcaster Justine Simons – Mayor of London (Director, Fourth Plinth Programme)

Arts Council England champions, develops and invests in artistic and cultural experiences that enrich people’s lives. We support 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 2010 and 2015, we will invest £1.9 billion of public money from government and an estimated £1.1 billion from the National Lottery to help create these experiences for as many people as possible across the country.