seriously, the guy has a point

I got metaphorically spanked a couple of days ago. Folks have been talking about the Fearless Girl statue ever since it was dropped in Manhattan’s Financial District some five weeks ago. I have occasionally added a comment or two to some of the online discussions about the statue.

Recently most of the Fearless Girl discussions have focused on the complaints by Arturo Di Modica, the sculptor who created Charging Bull. He wants Fearless Girl removed, and that boy is taking a metric ton of shit for saying that. Here’s what I said that got me spanked:

The guy has a point.

This happened in maybe three different discussions over the last week or so. In each case I explained briefly why I believe Di Modica has a point (and I’ll explain it again in a bit), and for the most part folks either accepted my comments or ignored them. Which is pretty common for online discussions. But in one discussion my comment sparked this:

Men who don’t like women taking up space are exactly why we need the Fearless Girl.

Which — and this doesn’t need to be said, but I’m okay with saying the obvious — is a perfectly valid response. It’s also one I agree with. As far as that goes, it’s one NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio agrees with, since he said it first (although, to be fair, probably one of his public relations people first said it first).

But here’s the thing: you can completely agree with the woman who responded to my comment AND you can still acknowledge that Arturo Di Modica has a point. Those aren’t mutually exclusive or contradictory points of view.

Let me apologize here, because I have to do some history — and for reasons I’ve never understood, some folks actively dislike history. It’s necessary though. So here we go. Back in 1987 there was a global stock market crash. Doesn’t matter why (at least not for this discussion), but stock markets everywhere — everywhere — tanked. Arturo Di Modica, a Sicilian immigrant who became a naturalized citizen of the U.S., responded by creating Charging Bull — a bronze sculpture of a…well, a charging bull. It took him two years to make it. The thing weighs more than 7000 pounds, and cost Di Modica some US$350,000 of his own money. He said he wanted the bull to represent “the strength and power of the American people”. He had it trucked into the Financial District and set it up, completely without permission. It’s maybe the only significant work of guerrilla capitalist art in existence.

People loved it. The assholes who ran the New York Stock Exchange, for some reason, didn’t. They called the police, and pretty soon the statue was removed and impounded. A fuss was raised, the city agreed to temporarily install it, and the public was pleased. It’s been almost thirty years, and Charging Bull is still owned by Di Modica, still on temporary loan to the city, still one of the most recognizable symbols of New York City.

Arturo Di Modica (the one in the beret)

And that brings us to March 7th of this year, the day before International Women’s Day. Fearless Girl appeared, standing in front of Charging Bull. On the surface, it appears to be another work of guerrilla art — but it’s not. Unlike Di Modica’s work, Fearless Girl was commissioned. Commissioned not by an individual, but by an investment fund called State Street Global Advisors, which has assets in excess of US$2.4 trillion. That’s serious money. It was commissioned as part of an advertising campaign developed by McCann, a global advertising corporation. And it was commissioned to be presented on the first anniversary of State Street Global’s “Gender Diversity Index” fund, which has the following NASDAQ ticker symbol: SHE. And finally, along with Fearless Girl is a bronze plaque that reads:

Know the power of women in leadership. SHE makes a difference.

Note it’s not She makes a difference, it’s SHE makes a difference. It’s not referring to the girl; it’s referring to the NASDAQ symbol. It’s not a work of guerrilla art; it’s an extremely clever advertising scheme. This is what makes it clever: Fearless Girl derives its power almost entirely from Di Modica’s statue. The sculptor, Kristen Visbal, sort of acknowledges this. She’s said this about her statue:

“She’s not angry at the bull — she’s confident, she knows what she’s capable of, and she’s wanting the bull to take note.”

It’s all about the bull. If it were placed anywhere else, Fearless Girl would still be a very fine statue — but without facing Charging Bull the Fearless Girl has nothing to be fearless to. Or about. Whatever. Fearless Girl, without Di Modica’s bull, without the context provided by the bull, becomes Really Confident Girl.

Fearless Girl also changes the meaning of Charging Bull. Instead of being a symbol of “the strength and power of the American people” as Di Modica intended, it’s now seen as an aggressive threat to women and girls — a symbol of patriarchal oppression.

In effect, Fearless Girl has appropriated the strength and power of Charging Bull. Of course Di Modica is outraged by that. A global investment firm has used a global advertising firm to create a faux work of guerrilla art to subvert and change the meaning of his actual work of guerrilla art. That would piss off any artist.

See? It’s not as simple as it seems on the surface. It’s especially complicated for somebody (like me, for example) who appreciates the notion of appropriation in art. I’ve engaged in a wee bit of appropriation my ownself. Appropriation art is, almost by definition, subversive — and subversion is (also almost by definition) usually the province of marginalized populations attempting to undermine the social order maintained by tradition and the establishments of power. In the case of Fearless Girl, however, the subversion is being done by global corporatists as part of a marketing campaign. That makes it hard to cheer them on. There’s some serious irony here.

And yet, there she is, the Fearless Girl. I love the little statue of the girl in the Peter Pan pose. And I resent that she’s a marketing tool. I love that she actually IS inspiring to young women and girls. And I resent that she’s a fraud. I love that she exists. And I resent the reasons she was created.

I love the Fearless Girl and I resent her. She’s an example of how commercialization can take something important and meaningful — something about which everybody should agree — and shit all over it by turning it into a commodity. Fearless Girl is beautiful, but she is selling SHE; that’s why she’s there.

Should Fearless Girl be removed as Di Modica wants? I don’t know. It would be sad if she was. Should Di Modica simply take his Charging Bull and go home? I mean, it’s his statue. He can do what he wants with it. I couldn’t blame him if he did that, since the Fearless Girl has basically hijacked the meaning of his work. But that would be a shame. I’m not a fan of capitalism, but that’s a damned fine work of art.

I don’t know what should be done here. But I know this: Arturo Di Modica has a point. And I know a lot of folks aren’t willing to acknowledge that.

 

 

 

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2,078 thoughts on “seriously, the guy has a point

  1. I agree with you, but not having had the context of either sculpture beforehand, I too saw the anti-patriarchal message only, and I think for most that is the message that will be conveyed (even if the commissioning ad department had other ideas) and in the long run (assuming both objects stay in place) that is the new, transformed message that will be conveyed to the clean-slate viewer. In a way the symbols of the bull and girl has changed as wall street greed and the role of women in society have both become flashpoints in society. Di Modica and the ad agency, in a way, are having their pieces re-contextualized by society as a while.

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    • Excellent point. I didn’t even think about ‘the clean slate viewer’. I guess that’s because it’s been so long since my slate has been clean.

      I’ve been pretty uncomfortable with this situation. I dislike finding myself in a position where I’m sort of defending a sculptor who created a beautiful work that celebrates an economic system I adamantly oppose. And I find myself disparaging a statue whose public interpretation I agree with, because its a product of that same economic system.

      It’s a big ol’ goofy world, as John Prine says.

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      • I don’t think it is fair to characterize the raging bull as becoming merely a symbol of rampaging patriarchy. I think it stays the same even with the capitalist message intended by Di Modica.
        Consider it from this context, Di Modica is a perfect representation of the constraints capitalism puts on art. If he had not had the money to fund the creation of the piece, it never would have gotten done. The ability to create this act of Guerrilla art was dependent on his own existing status. Moreover, the fact that it was ultimately allowed to remain was likely in large part also influenced by the status conferred on him by having money, a luxury not afforded many artists. Moreover, the piece itself is not in protest, not even celebration as protest. Celebration of capitalism is encouraged in our society, it is a celebration of the status quo. Even the American spirit he praises ignored the very many people who do suffer even fatal consequences as a result of stock market turmoil. It might as well be saying that the American Spirit lives only in those who succeed.
        Guerrilla art is the voice of the unheard and underprivileged. It exists in large part as a result OF Capitalism and the various oppressive dynamics it reinforces, including yes, patriarchy. By celebrating capitalism in the medium of its victims, is almost an intentional slap in the face of other guerrilla artists for whom guerrilla art isn’t necessarily a choice but the result of their struggles with an uncaring capitalist system. And then to have it praised as a symbol of the style…
        I almost dare say that you could argue it’s a form of cultural appropriation.
        Now Fearless Girl, regardless of its origins is a response that forces the viewer to consider what the girl has TO BE afraid of. Yes there is the obvious answer of the aggressive charging bull, a good metaphor for toxic masculinity, but there is also the artistic answer of raging capitalism. Women are more likely than men to live in poverty. They are less likely to afforded the same opportunities in business, academia, politics, etc. Capitalism is used to reinforce systemic patriarchy because less capital means less opportunities for advancement.
        Bringing in the capitalist context into Fearless Girl itself, yes, it is advertisement, and yes it was funded by a multimillion dollar company, BUT it is still an interesting message. Here is a girl, standing up to the Toxic Masculinity that is Raging Capitalism and using it’s own weapon to support her defiance. I don’t know enough about the company to be able to read further into it, but if it turns out that the company embodies female empowerment then the symbol is almost even more powerful.
        (there is also an argument to be made that advertising can be a form of art as well).
        But lets add another layer to all this. One of the unique features of Guerrilla/Street Art, is this idea of Call and Response. Many times, street artists will respond to one another’s pieces, creating art that works individually as well together.
        It’s easy to dismiss the idea of Really Confident Girl, but consider that a lot of social pressure made being really confident an act of rebellion for women. We are often told to be quieter, less aggressive. Our anger is dismissed as irrationality. Confidence is seen as vanity. Really Confident Girl is equally Fearless Girl as a girl standing up to a charging bull is.

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      • I agree with about 90% of what you say. I even mostly agree with this: Guerrilla art is the voice of the unheard and underprivileged. I’d argue that guerrilla art is in almost all instances the voice of the unheard and underprivileged. But I hope you’d agree that the foundation of guerrilla art is unpaid and unapproved public art — which is what Di Modica’s bull was. I’m not comfortable with the notion that guerrilla art is restricted to certain populations. I don’t feel I can reject a work of guerrilla art simply because it was produced by somebody driven by an ideology I find offensive.

        One of the unique features of Guerrilla/Street Art, is this idea of Call and Response.
        Yes. And had Fearless Girl been sparked by that notion — had it been a personal response rather than a work commissioned by a marketing agency — I’d never have written this.

        It’s easy to dismiss the idea of Really Confident Girl
        I hope you don’t think I was doing that. I was just pointing out that to be fearless one has to be facing something to be feared — in this case, the bull. If you remove the thing to be feared, the title Fearless Girl loses a lot of its power. At least in my opinion.

        Liked by 6 people

      • It’s a bit like drawing a mustache on the Mona Lisa. It could be funny or a profound statement, but at the end of the day, you’ve twisted someone’s voice. That’s a disturbing thought.

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    • And that (the re-contextualization of art) is the POINT of art. Starting a conversation. Do YOU dictate the course of a conversation? I would argue that you may attempt to but, good luck with that. It’s the the right of the viewer to decide the meaning of a work. In fact, the artist relinquished any rights of control over the meaning of his or her art by placing it in a public space. I refer you to Terry Barrett’s “Interpreting Art”….https://www.amazon.com/Interpreting-Art-Reflecting-Wondering-Responding/dp/0767416481

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      • that’s true for post modernism, but a lot of post modernism is simply bullshit.
        I don’t think this statue is bullshit, I rather like it. But just because something is a redefinition doesn’t make it worthwhile.

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      • And I argue that Fearless Girl doesn’t lose that meaning even without the bull. In this day and age a young girl being so visibly and completely confident is to be Fearless. Being assertive like that isn’t just socially dangerous for women, but is physically dangerous as well. Just look at how many school shootings of girls are motivated by them saying no to a date. They are literally punished fatally for not being attracted to someone, and society often tells them they are wrong for “not giving them a chance”. A chance for what!? How many times do men reject women or consider them only friends because the spark is not there. Why are women expected to ignore their own attraction and feelings in deference to a man’s? And yet, look at a lot of the comments when a girl is threatened, or beaten, or yes, killed, for having told a boy No.

        As to your commission argument: I disagree with your premise – commissioned art can still have meaning. They might provide a set of criteria, but ultimately, it is the artist who gives it life. There are so many ways that someone could have take this concept and made it their own, and the artist did so here. To claim that it is not art just because someone paid for it before hand is to dismiss histories of art. The Sistine Chapel was a commissioned work. Is Michelangelo not an artist?

        I’ve done commissioned work and it’s often just another source of inspiration. There are bits of me in every work like this. Some personal signature of decision that has meaning at the very least to me. A message to what I am creating that is all my own. I would hate to have any of those pieces denigrated as just commission work.

        Also consider the systemic social bias that leads to that conclusion. Someone who works on a commission often does so because they need money. It’s a form of poverty shaming to suggest that putting face to someone else’s vision is in any way less difficult and less a creative endeavor than doing so for your own.

        Re: Post modernism.

        You can take or leave post modernism as you want but there is a reason that death of the author is such an important aspect of critical analysis: People are the worst judges of their own biases. Everyone thinks they are unbiased and uninfluenced by society at large, but deviation from the mean is painful. It is often an act of sacrifice and passion in the true sense of the word.

        Art is not devoid of context, and creating a bronze idol to capitalism cannot divorce itself from capitalism’s toxic masculinity.

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      • **I can’t seem to reply directly to Greg. Not going to lie sometimes these nested withing nested replies confuse the hell out of me.

        I forgot to add one thing. It’s not about dismissing a work because you disagree with it’s politics. It’s about recognizing power dynamics and the roles they play in what is recognized as art and allowed to exist and what isn’t.

        If Charging Bull had been made (exactly the same) by a poor black woman, do you think it would still be standing?

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      • What would you think if I made a sculpture of a woman twerking her ass against Michelangelo’s David? It’s a publicly displayed sculpture, and I want to start a conversation about sexuality and idealism in art. Using his sculpture to do that will get me a lot more exposure. I mean, Michelangelo’s dead, who cares what he originally intended. I need -my- vision to be the prevailing meaning of his piece, not his.

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    • If it has to be moved, place it and its plaque outside the gate of the White House to keep a steady eye on our residing president. (Not on the lawn itself, no, it would render it inaccessible.) The vast numbers of people gathering at the gate to take selfies with her would magically feed Trump’s ego and maybe boost his morale.

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    • This is very well articulated. Most people will not take the time to investigate origins before coming to conclusions. Most are going to trust that the system which placed this, now joint, installation there are honorable, noble in intention. This is my first time actually seeing the girl, and although I was instantly enamored, I felt that there was something inherently wrong with the deflection away from another artist’s hard work. Now knowing the back story, it really leaves a bad taste.

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    • “that is the new, transformed message that will be conveyed to the clean-slate viewer. In a way the symbols of the bull and girl has changed as wall street greed and the role of women in society have both become flashpoints in society. Di Modica and the ad agency, in a way, are having their pieces re-contextualized by society as a while.”

      No, sorry I don’t believe that and it’s total rubbish for Di Modica.

      If people think the bull is about patriarchy then they have missed the point. They are ignorant. You are saying that if enough people are ignorant the artist has to go along with their new, collective and ignorant interpretation.

      Stupidity or ignorance should never get to “recontextualise” what anything means. That’s insane.
      The clean slate viewer needs to engage with the art. If someone refuses information about a subject, makes wrong assertions, and then spreads that misinformation, that’s not good. It should not change the message.

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      • Olly perhaps it was Di Modica who was ignorant- of the pervasive sexism embedded in Wall Street and in the wider culture. It was there when he made the sculpture. He may have chosen to ignore that context, but it existed, and now it is more recognized, and now it informs our interaction with his work.
        To call that rubbish, or misinformation, or wrong assertion, is to attempt to silence the discussion about the realities of sexism.

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    • I like pieces like this one that stimulate and stir up our thinking and inspire a great exchange of differing opinions on complicated subjects. So thank you for that. I am interested in the comment the article’s author makes: “I’m not a fan of capitalism.” Yet the blog’s tagline is, “It’s this or get a real job.” It seems to me that capitalism is allowing you to write (and avoid ‘getting a real job.’) So good for you. I support that behavior. That’s the dream, isn’t it? To use our natural abilities and gifts to earn a respectable living and not have to slave away at jobs we hate. So I would say congratulations on your blog and writing career. And maybe we can celebrate the upside of Capitalism which allows people the freedom to do that.

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      • I’m more inclined to say I’m managing to avoid a real job in spite of capitalism. Capitalism requires me to sell my labor in one way or another. Sensible folks sell their labor by taking a real job with a regular paycheck and (it’s to be hoped) benefits like health care and a paid vacation. In exchange for that, a LOT of folks are willing to do a job they don’t care about — or actively dislike. Capitalism doesn’t give me the freedom to write; it would be more accurate to say it punishes me for that choice. There are a LOT of people who’d like to write; they don’t because they have to make enough money to support a family or pay off school debts or pay for day care or have health issues that would bankrupt them otherwise. Capitalism makes writing for a living a stupid, risky choice.

        But it’s what we have in the U.S., and there are so many other things I love about this country that I’ve no abiding desire to live anywhere else.

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  2. The commodification of feminism has been happening for years. There’s nothing in this country, no concept, no ideal, that we don’t shit all over in the pursuit of money. I never even knew about the bull, so the only context I’ve seen it in is with the girl. It has, however, started an interesting conversation about art and that can’t be a bad thing at a time when culture seems to be in free fall.

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    • My first reaction was, I think, like most folks. I completely applauded the new statue. It seemed like such a terrific act of resistance. But the more I learned about it, the more disappointed I became. Now I find myself asking questions. Since this was a commissioned piece, how much of the design was the sculptor’s idea? What seemed like an act of resistance now seems like an attempt to co-opt the passion of resistance for commercial gain.

      On the other hand, art means what the people think it means. It may be that the people will ignore the interests of commerce and celebrate the Fearless Girl for being a fearless girl. I hope so.

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      • “What seemed like an act of resistance now seems like an attempt to co-opt the passion of resistance for commercial gain.”
        An interesting point, espcially considering the (perfectly valid) issues people have with the recent Pepsi ad campaign which did that in a much more heavy-handed (and far more superficial) way. If the plaque were a little bigger, and more obviously an advertisement, I wonder how different the reaction would have been?

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    • I sort of liked the statement that fearless girl seemed to make, but on reflection,it seems symptomatic of a larger movement that seems a little more focused on raising women’s opinions of their abilities, while not making any real changes in their lives.
      Just convincing a girl that she is strong enough to stand in front of the bull is not the same as giving her the abilities to actually do so. In the military, we are doing our very best to bring women into all jobs and specialties. But sometimes we run into harsh realities. A large percentage of female candidates are just not physically able to throw a fragmentation grenade beyond it’s potential blast radius. And no amount of confidence seems to change that reality. It is frustrating for everyone involved.
      That is one small example of the challenges that we are facing daily. And the problem is not that girls lack enough self confidence. So more confidence is not necessarily part of the solution.

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  3. I agree with everything you’ve written about this. I like the idea of the fearless girl, but I don’t agree with the appropriation of the bull to convey the meaning of the fearless girl. It makes the bull (and what it symbolizes) look like the villain. Instead, why don’t they both face the world together, side by side? Men working with and alongside women, as it were? I think that would be a good compromise. But I must say something about the fearless girl that you did not mention. Maybe because I am a woman, I feel this. I don’t know. Anyway, I am actually offended by the fearless girl because the fact it is a girl and not a woman plays into the hands of patriarchy. Why is it so hard for a woman, an actual adult woman, to be represented? Are men offended by the portrait of an actual Fearless Woman? It seems like the fearless girl is a “less offensive” statement. Nobody can dislike a little girl. If they wanted to make a true statement about women, it should have been a Fearless Woman.

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    • … the fact it is a girl and not a woman plays into the hands of patriarchy.

      Yes, I did actually think about that. As I mentioned in another comment, I wonder if the ad agency specified the sculpture should be of a girl rather than a woman. I started to write about that, but that leads to a larger discussion — and the blog post was already longer than I wanted it to be.

      An argument could be made that it’s important for the character to be a young girl because girlhood is when the work of being fearless needs to begin. On the other hand, that puts the burden on girls to be fearless rather than on boys not to create fear. Both are important.

      The thing is, the statue was created for advertising purposes more than as a statement about the role of women in business. I don’t think men are necessarily offended by a fearless woman. I think the patriarchy is terrified of them, though. Terror sucks as an advertising tool.

      I think the discussion about these statues is good. I just want it to be about more than cute, perky little girls standing up to mean, charging bulls.

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      • Funny you bring up the patriarchy, since I just had this discussion (er, fight) about intersectionality – feminism and ageism. I agree that “girl” plays in to the patriarchy on many levels. But in my debate, while simultaneously taking on the “not everything is the patriarchy” argument and “younger women dismiss older women” ageism issue, I learned this about me (as an “old ideologue”). Women only lose our voice when we choose not to use it and “I’m too old for this s*&^” is an option, but it’s not mandatory. My power is not threatened by Bull or Girl, regardless of what the Patriarchy would have me believe, unless I choose it to be. If Bull and Girl think otherwise, that’s on them. I am not the Jackass whisperer (though raising your voice to one is a choice, too).

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    • I think that both you and Greg have a point here. Girlhood is the start of esteem building and before girlhood is over we begin to see steep drops in confidence. And yes, boys should be taught to not be perpetrators of fear. However, I do feel that using the cute girl is also related to women being called girls more often then men being called boys; and why women are expected to conform to beauty standards that require the hairlessness of a pre-pubescent girl. I don’t think a patriarchal system wants to see the statue of an arm on hips woman daily, though we have plenty erected for men. I feel there are surely conscious and unconscious forces at play. It’s unfortunate that both works of art are great together and apart. I would take really confident girl alone if they decided to move her.

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    • I doubt this is the discussion that McCann and State Street Global Advisors wanted folks to have — which is good. I’m sure they’d have preferred to keep the discussion about the cute but fearless little girl standing up to the big bad bull, But that’s not a very honest discussion — and not all that interesting either.

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  4. That bull was always patriarchal. It’s always been a symbol of Wall Street, in a vacuum, divorced from common people or those not in the “in” club of equities, wealth, and materialism. Or the Old Boys Club. The Fearless Girl existed there, even prior to her being placed there. How many women CEOs are there of Fortune 500 companies? 4%? 5%? My mother infiltrated the boys club as an attorney long before women attorneys existed. And the only reason she became successful was she was precisely that fearless girl from her childhood onward. Every single day of her life, she punched up, grabbing that bull by the horns from a defensive posture. Those two statues coexist whether they coexist materially or not.

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    • Exactly. The bull, if it ever was about “the american people” had already long been re-contextualized by its proximity to *wall street*. If, as you say with the girl, it had been put anyplace else, its meaning would be changed significantly. The girl does not make it a symbol of patriarchal oppression, it simply points out how much it already is.

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      • Except it’s not hahahaha this is what I love about liberals these days they just have to tell you about oppression, even if an artist specifically says something you know better because patriarchy patriarchy blah blah blah I really think most of you are missing the point behind who made the girl and why

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      • That’s what I love bout conservatives these days. They just serve as mindless mouthpieces and puppets, regurgitating nonsense and brainlessly repeating whatever line they are told to say.No need for thought involved, let alone facts or logic.
        Oh, and their complete inability to construct grammatical correct, coherent sentences in English, or use punctuation to delineate their rambling, stream of unconsciousness from incomprehensible word salad.

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    • The bull has always been ironic. It was created and placed in the wake of a financial crisis by a good who is clearly not part of the financial services industry. That people cannot understand this simple fact is probably why there is any controversy over his potential lawsuit to begin with.

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      • Emblems, symbols and art are how they are perceived, not strictly intent. You can read any book by, say, Umberto Eco or Michel Foucault to wrap your head around this. Or, you can take a walk through Central Park and think about it. Almost everyone who descends on Wall Street each and every day *does* associate the bull (not the cow or tigress) with a bullish market and the dopamine spikes on and off Wall Street — within equities and/or the accumulation of wealth and power. It is a club, it is exclusive and it is exclusionary. You can certainly have your own opinion. But the girl is far more ironic (I would argue iconic) than that bull ever will be.

        Sure, she can be removed. It will not alter the truth. It will not change the fact that Janet Yellen was the first and only ever woman chair of the Federal Reserve. There has never been a woman US President in 240 years. And that is not by some cosmic happenstance. It is certainly not happenstance when even 53 percent of white women vote for an unqualified male over a qualified female. Women cannot be so ambitious, as to fib, dissemble or triangulate. A man can be a pathological liar, clinically insane, a sexual predator, unlawful, unconstitutional, etc. Still he will retain core support. Shrug, we just love all that “bull.”

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  5. This will go around & around as long as these statues exist. I’m sure in the end it’ll be one of those “history being written by the winner” cases, where whoever gets their way will tell their version of what actually happened. Meanwhile, people will continue going about their business oblivious to these subtleties of story.

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  6. Di Modica should sue for 1/2 of the fee paid to the advetising firm at a minimum. it was his creation that made the girl possible and relevane. his art was used without his permission to create the girl.

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    • I don’t think money is the issue for Di Modica. I think he’s trying to protect his work from being interpreted in a way he didn’t intend. And the fact is, no artist can control that.

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  7. Strangely, since the bull represents the strength of the American people, the girl ends up being an obstruction, not brave. Regardless of how this is resolved, and I do also see both sides, I think the plaque by the girl needs to be removed, and just let the art remain. There should be no ad there.

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  8. I still don’t think he has a point. Even if the girl is an advertising stunt – he cannot dictate what other artists do (god forbid they should be PAID!). If someone wants to respond to his piece of guerilla art (which even – maybe especially – after a Stock Market crash is still, to me, a symbol of oppression)- they can! This artist was clearly able to take her mission beyond its advertising function into another realm. I doubt if the advertising function will even be remembered.

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    • I have to disagree, at least in part. I agree the advertising angle will be forgotten by viewers. But I think any artist whose work is appropriated has a right to be upset by it. I think appropriation has a place in art, and I don’t have much sympathy for the bull as a symbol of capitalism, so I’m okay with the way Fearless Girl works. But I also think Di Modica has a legit gripe about the way his work has been used and it’s meaning changed.

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      • I am not sure that appropriation is the correct term here. Art can be a conversation just like writing, or speaking. Are we not allowed to comment or criticize another artist’s work? In public? Is that appropriation? Critical conversations can be held with visual mediums as well as with words. For me the only real use of the word ‘appropriation” with regard to art is cultural appropriation – when an artists uses the visual vocabulary of another culture whose experience he does not share. This girl is not appropriation – its dialog.

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      • Appropriation is generally considered to be the unauthorized borrowing of an existing work, incorporating it into a new work. I don’t think it’s an issue of whether we can ‘comment or criticize another artist’s work’. Of course we can. My concern had been that the public discussion has ignored some facts that are worth consideration.

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      • Since Greg fails to understand what appropriation truly is, here you go. Education is power, so trust a valid source…not this random man who has a blog online. MoMa is a valid source. Greg, not so much.
        As you can see, 1) FG isn’t appropriation, and 2) appropriation is a form of artwork made famous by the likes of Warhol, Picasso, Duchamp, Rauschenberg, Braque, and Lichtenstein, among others.
        https://www.moma.org/learn/moma_learning/themes/pop-art/appropriation
        Here’s the thing, guys: Greg posts inflammatory blog posts in the hopes that one of them becomes viral and he becomes famous and he collects the ad revenue. He might even be hoping for paid writing gigs, although this is probably a stretch since his writing style is choppy, at best. I forwarded this blog to the head of the art department at my university and he wasn’t surprised at Greg’s opinion on this topic. Greg is looking for clicks, but would be doing himself a favor if he instead educated himself through college art courses and then discussed his opinions and thoughts with a group of people with all sorts of varying opinions. And not online where he can hide behind lies and a facade of knowledge.

        Liked by 2 people

      • Re: “Are we not allowed to comment or criticize another artist’s work? In public?” although I agree that art should be in conversation with other art, and critique other art when it is necessary, this specific example of “talking-back” differs from other examples. You could hang a painting in the Louvre that copied and defaced the image of the Mona Lisa and it wouldn’t be harming the original in any way. If you created a statue and positioned it in the Louvre so that it was physically blocking someone’s view of the Mona Lisa, that would be a fascinating artistic statement but it would a very different proposition. There is only one “Bull,” and now that “Fearless Girl” is there it is impossible to read the “Bull” without “Fearless Girl” being there. The “Bull” isn’t the same statue it used to be, in a very meaningful way. It is now Bull + Girl. And yeah, in a real sense the Bull’s artist ceded any control the second he put it up. He did set up a physical object, without anyone’s permission, on a busy street where anyone could do anything they liked. But it’s important to not forget the physicality of the particular case we’re talking about in the process of trying to extrapolate to what this means about art in general.

        Liked by 2 people

      • MoMa is a valid source. Greg, not so much.
        I said appropriation is “the unauthorized borrowing of an existing work, incorporating it into a new work.” MoMa says it’s “the intentional borrowing, copying, and alteration of preexisting images and objects.” Perhaps you see a difference; I don’t.

        Greg posts inflammatory blog posts in the hopes that one of them becomes viral and he becomes famous and he collects the ad revenue.

        Well, no. I get no ad revenue, I don’t think there’s anything in this post that’s inflammatory (not nearly as inflammatory as your accusations). I’ve no ambition to be internet famous, and I already make a living writing.

        I write this blog for my own amusement. When I write here, I post a link on facebook for my friends; it’s not even a public post. That’s the extent of what you claim is my desire to go viral.

        I’m not sure why you’re so angry about this or so angry at me.

        Liked by 2 people

      • “But I also think Di Modica has a legit gripe about the way his work has been used and it’s meaning changed.”

        But did the girl change the meaning of his work or was it the financial institutions that Di Modica authorized to appropriate it?

        Maybe it’s time for Di Modica to remove the bull since it no longer represents the strength of the American people.

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      • Greg posts inflammatory blog posts

        Honestly, I have spent the last hour reading this post and the many, many comments and replies to it, and so far the only thing I have seen that comes even close to “inflammatory” is your post. Everywhere I see people having polite, civil, intelligent conversations about a well-raised point on recontextualization of art without the consent of the artist, appropriation of socially popular mores for profit and advertising, and how much right, if any, the artist has to be upset about that or demand change. Greg has not insulted people who believe differently, he has not insisted his view is the only correct one, he has simply created an intelligent, open discussion about a complex topic.

        And then there’s you, insulting and slinging accusations, because somebody on the internet said something you don’t want to have to actually think about.

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      • Re: ‘Greg is looking for clicks, but would be doing himself a favor if he instead educated himself through college art courses and then discussed his opinions and thoughts with a group of people with all sorts of varying opinions.’
        Interesting thought, considering Universities these days try silencing everyone with Opinions which vary too much, because they would disturb the ‘safe spaces’ of others or the ‘publicly accepted norm’ too much.
        I think him doing wjat you suggest would silence him very fast, so i disagree with you

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    • “(which even – maybe especially – after a Stock Market crash is still, to me, a symbol of oppression)”

      Did you even pay attention to why di Modica made the bull? You are saying “I know it’s not a symbol of oppression but to me it’s still a symbol of oppression!”

      It’s a symbol of the opposite. It was a piece of guerilla art AGAINST (pls note the caps) the oppression you are talking about. You cannot turn it into an oppressive symbol just bc you don’t understand what it is, what it means or just because it’s a big bull vs a little girl.

      This is exactly the point – these days all somebody needs to do to derail a protest is to shout “patriarchy!” and suddenly the protest symbol becomes the oppressor. If Jesus came back to earth riding a fucking unicorn shooting rainbows out of his arse, someone would shout “patriarchy!” or “racist!” and he’d be crucified again.

      The bull is a protestor! The bull is against all these things that you’re getting wound up about.

      However now the bull is the enemy because… you can’t read? Or were just too lazy to find out about it? Or you saw the bull and someone shouted “patriarchy” in your head because bulls are male and little girls aren’t? PAY ATTENTION

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Great writing and reporting Greg.
    Your right the girl needs to be removed. Maybe the SHE investment fund could find another use for the statue. Arturo’s work defines American financial power. It needs to be left alone, not degraded like this.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Oh, I don’t think the Fearless Girl needs to be removed. I’m not sure what the appropriate action should be. I just think people ought to be aware that the situation is more complicated than it appears on the surface.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Don’t think I agree with your limited definition of appropriation..I agree that the term usually refers to the using of another culture’s visual language without an understanding of their language vis a vis that culture..using another artist’s work is more like stealing or copying..not appropriating…

        Liked by 2 people

      • It pisses me off that she’s a marketing ploy but I don’t want to lose her. I think they should stand beside each other. Then, instead of two opposing sides, they’re a team. The Charging Bull, a symbol of American strength and The Fearless Girl, a symbol of feminine empowerment, side by side. The message stops being a war against “the man” and instead becomes a symbol of unity. America stands with women. America empowers women and women empower America. They’re both symbols of strength, why do they need to oppose each other?

        Liked by 1 person

  10. ok, but in 2011, his Bull was caged in by security barricades and cops to keep Occupy away and he didn’t complain then, so I call bull on the context argument.

    Liked by 4 people

  11. While I agree with everything you wrote here, there’s one more thing to consider. Ar (or anything), once placed within the public space, stops being the sole possession of the artist and becomes something else. It becomes part of the space it occupies. It can then be used, built upon, parodied, photographed, touched, misunderstood, re-thought, juxtaposed, or incorporated into new ways of thinking, either by intent or coincidence.
    This is not Di Modica’s bull anymore. It stopped being his when he had it placed (illegally, I remind you) on a public street in NYC. It hasn’t been “his” for 30 years.
    I get what he’s saying but it’s 30 years too late to complain. Once the bull appeared in public, its meaning belongs to each person who sees it.
    (Personally, the idea that this statue is (or ever was) “a symbol of “the strength and power of the American people” goes right past me. Seriously? A large and dangerous animal? I would like to think the American people are better than that.
    Whether Fearless Girl was commissioned as a marketing tool or not, set without a permit or not, also doesn;t matter. As soon as her feet hit the ground, she became something else. Like the bull, she belongs to the people who see her.
    Art is not art, that alters when it alteration finds.

    Liked by 5 people

    • Philosophically I completely agree. The bull and the girl form a dialectic that creates something new. If we step outside the world of art as a commodity, then we have a dialog. But this is NYC and the Financial District — and while I wish it weren’t so, everything is a commodity there. Socially and culturally both those statues sort of belong to the public, but legally Di Modica owns the bull.

      I like the new meaning the girl brings to the bull, even if I dislike the corporate origins of the statue. I also think the bull is beautiful… as a bull. As a symbol of American capitalism, it’s appalling. I really think this a situation with no good resolution.

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    • The Bull was placed in front of the NYSE to change how people thought about that building, ‘appropriating’ it if you want to use that term. Fearless Girl did the same thing to the Bull. So the artist who made the Bull doesn’t object to ‘appropriation’ in principle – he just doesn’t like some other artist doing it to him.
      As for how Fearless Girl was paid for – lots of great art was paid for lots of ways, for lots of reasons. What’s important about art is the response in viewers. And Fearless Girl is provoking a powerful public discussion, making it highly effective art.

      Liked by 4 people

    • “a symbol of “the strength and power of the American people” goes right past me. Seriously? A large and dangerous animal? I would like to think the American people are better than that.”

      Yeah, seriously. Bulls (if you ever lived on a farm) aren’t just dangerous animals. They are functional, proud, strong, majestic beasts. Like the expression “strong like bull”. Bulls are symbols of potency and strength.

      Your actual symbol is an eagle – a solitary, flesh-eating predator that hunts down things that are smaller and weaker. America is an imperialist predator masquerading under the pretence of freedom and ideal. That’s why the little girl is perfect – everybody stands up for her because she’s a girl, without realising she’s the devil.

      Liked by 1 person

    • I have no idea if SHE is helping or just masking a symptom. I’m not sure it matters. By commissioning the statue the fund calls its motives into question. Hell, I’m not even sure THAT matters. But it all contributes to the discussion, so that’s good.

      Like

  12. Maybe Di Modica should just turn the bull around.
    It might give the impression the little girl had scared the big bad bull away, but it would also remove the symbilisim of the threat toward women (which the bull was never intended to symbolize).
    If Di Modica turns the bull to face another direction and they move The Fearless Girl then maybe Di Modica has a legal case against the advertising company for intentional defacement of his art.

    Liked by 3 people

  13. Agreed. Imagine how all great works of art could be co-opted in this manner. McCann Corporation got their PR (great ad campaign, btw) and now they should remove it. Put it on display at a gallery that needs the draw. Thanks for the backstory.

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  14. Fascinating points. I love the idea of a plucky girl tweaking the (patriarchal) system, and my first instinct when seeing the sculpture was to respond, “You go girl!”. But yes, this raises a number of issues. A problem with greenlighting any and all forms of appropriation is that it could boomerang back in less pleasant ways. For example, next week another artist with an axe to grind could create a new installation around Fearless Girl to make it look like she’s standing amidst broken bodies of minority kids and turn this plucky girl into a statement about bullying and white privilege. And yet, as many people have pointed out art gets recycled in many ways, by many hands. All in all an interesting situation that doesn’t provide easy answers.

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  15. Wonderful commentary and I appreciate the additional history behind this situation and seeing all sides of it. That being said, I think the public has appropriated both pieces into something bigger than either one alone would be and certainly beyond what the State Street Global Advisors had in mind. I understand and empathize with Di Modica’s reaction to all of this, particularly in light of what was originally a generous tribute to the spirit of America in the midst of a crisis. However, I also think that time itself has appropriated this new permutation. I hope they stay exactly as they are now, with a nod to Di Modica’s generosity if he chooses to leave the charging bull there.

    Liked by 4 people

  16. I think I’m not bothered by the advertising bit. For one thing, the bare existence of the fund in question is evidence of the problems the piece of art is commenting on. For another, the idea that only individuals with deep pockets should be able to stick art out in the streets is pretty appallingly classist. Art is not and should not be just for the wealthy. Yes, that company has lots of money, but that’s because many people with not so much money have worked together for their mutual benefit. Why is one capitalist piece of art OK when the other is not? Finally, the idea that the strength and power of the American people is being wielded against women is awful. It is not, however, false.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Why is one capitalist piece of art OK when the other is not?

      One piece was created by an individual who devoted his time and own money in an effort to make a personal statement. The other was created by an artist who was commissioned by an investment fund through an advertising agency to produce a work that promoted the investment fund.

      There’s nothing wrong with either work of art. They were just created for different reasons. In addition, the success of the latter work relies on the success of the earlier work. Without that earlier work, it’s unlikely the Fearless Girl would exist.

      Liked by 1 person

  17. I wouldn’t remove “Fearless Girl.” I’d turn her around, facing away from the bull, so that she is no longer in an adversarial pose in opposition to prosperity and economic confidence but, instead, is stepping up to lead. Which is more apropos of the point that the Fearless Girl statue’s funders claim they were trying to make – that more women need to be in leadership positions on Wall Street and the economy in general.

    Liked by 3 people

  18. I love the depth of your discussion. I want to share my perspective. I like both statues together. I see the charging bull as the stock market on a good day. I see the fearless girl as unafraid of the stock market. Historically, women in the US were supposed to leave finances to their husbands. Even today, I meet women who have no knowledge of their family finances and can barely balance a budget. I see this combination as girls and women taking control of their financial success. I find all these different perspectives enhances the beauty of the art, like facets on a diamond. Since most people don’t read the fine print, and ignore history, a a marketing ploy it can’t really be very successful. More art in cities is good, and artists getting paid is good. So I have net happiness when I see this, as a financially successful and fearless woman.

    Liked by 4 people

    • I like both statues together.

      I’m glad you shared your perspective. I like both statues together as well. As a result of all this discussion, my own thoughts and feelings about this situation fluctuates. At this point, if the Fearless Girl was removed as Di Modica wants, the fact is his statue will be thought of as the Charging Bull That Used to Face the Fearless Girl.

      Liked by 2 people

  19. To add another wrinkle: the thing they’re marketing appears to be a useful tool in fighting against sexism and for gender equality. It’s an index (an investment fund, in effect) of large companies that are leading the way in gender diversity at the upper management and board membership level.

    Liked by 2 people

  20. I get it. You don’t like Capitalism.
    Communism is so much better, you think? Then why did and do people risk their lives fleeing from Commuist countries to Capitalist ones, and not vice versa? We didn’t see people fleeing from West to East Germany or from Florida to Cuba, and don’t see people fleeing from South to North Korea,

    Liked by 2 people

    • Re: We didn’t see people fleeing from West to East Germany
      The Berlin Wall fell in 1989, East Germany is as Communist as West Germany is. Namely not. There is still a difference, yes, but after 28 Years not as large as in 1989. At least this is what is told to me living here in West Germany

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      • Nevermind, missread your comment, ignore mine. Thought your point was about why nobody flees wo east Germany today, not before the Wall fell. Considering this Context, your point is valid. Sorry about that.

        Like

  21. I have a few comments. First, thanks for the history lesson. I did not know the bull was un commissioned and my interpretation of it has been tempered by my opinion of traders, capitalism and image of the bull market bull dozing anything that stands in its way. So the idea that something small and fearless standing up to evil corporatism interests me. I agree with the idea that the context has now changed for the bull and I’m sorry for the artist. But as soon as he dropped his bull off it became open to any and everyone’s interpretation.
    For my part, it’s the child who should be removed. For two reasons, the first being that as a piece of art in public does it only have meaning in that one location? I would like to think it would have meaning anywhere.
    Most importantly, if those who commissioned have something important they are trying to advertise about gender diversity (and I’m not sure what that means exactly to them because I think it means something completely different to me) then a young girl offends me. I would like to see corporations be more concerned with gender equality and pay equity within their corporate cultures. Characteristics found endearing in a young girl tend to be off-putting in a grown woman. Ultimately, when the bull charges (yes I will always see it as a male force) the female child (who represents women and not gender diversity) will be violently destroyed and that is a story that plays out daily in homes and at work for too many women.

    Liked by 4 people

    • It doesn’t seem appropriate to ‘like’ your response, but what I very much like is your thoughtful analysis (while I dislike the socio-cultural situation that makes such an analysis necessary — if that makes sense.)

      Liked by 1 person

  22. Puts the bro who dry humped ‘Fearless Girl in a modified light. He goes from being an immature sexist douchebag to being an immature sexist douchebag accidentally protesting the system that employs him

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  23. The two statues should be side by side, lending strength to each other. She is not afraid, and he is not a threat. Instead it is a powerful relationship where she is confident beside him and he is proud to be there.

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  24. The true brilliance of the advertising here is this: the people most offended by the fact that it was designed as advertising are those who are going to tell everyone it’s advertising.
    For those wanting to subvert the advertising aspect, simply stop telling other people its advertising.

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  25. Absolutely agree with the original artist. Remove fearless girl. If the company wants to do right by the original work, remove the SHE plaque, and place her next to the bull facing the same direction, showing a notion of cooperative effort and gives a different message.

    Liked by 2 people

    • I actually LIKE the fact that Fearless Girl is facing down the bull. I think that, for the most part, it’s a powerful and necessary statement. The message on the surface is one of resistance, and I support that. I believe the depredations of Wall Street need to be resisted. My problem isn’t the surface message; my problem is that the motive for creating the statue was to promote Wall Street, but from a somewhat different angle.

      I also thought it was worthwhile for folks to understand Di Modica’s perspective.

      Liked by 1 person

  26. I think Di Modica should remove his Bull which will undermine SHE. He owns the Bull so should take full advantage of being able to relocate it. And I think you are wrong when you say “without facing Charging Bull the Fearless Girl has nothing to be fearless to. Or about.” ……. the moment girls learn to walk they are molded and influenced by societal expectation, much of it warped and damaging to their sense of self. Show me a girl who has stood in the face of ridicule, bullying, sexism or abuse and not been shamed for doing so. As for Art being hijacked for corporate gain ….. the world if full of it. The next move is up to Di Modica ….. if he’s smart he will take his power back and take his Bull.

    Liked by 2 people

    • In fact, he does NOT own the bull any more. He gifted it to the city of New York when he placed it on public property without being asked or obtaining permission. I’m pretty sure that would hold up in court as there is case law to back it up.

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  27. Rubbish.
    You dont get to control how people respond to and comment on your art – not even when it’s in close physical proximity.This is very clear cut free speech. He has no point, he has a big ego and a sense of entitlement.
    If you could sue people for creating art dependent on your art, every critic, satirist, parody artist, and cover song singer would be sued.
    The answer to speech we dont like is more speech, not censorship and lawsuits.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Free speech only applies to people being prosecuted, persecuted, etc. by the government. It does not apply to other people’s responses, and it doesn’t give you a right to install something permanently on land that doesn’t belong to you. Di Modica has a right to free speech, too. He has every right to respond to the Fearless Girl statue however he likes, without regard to whether you and I agree with him.

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  28. What the hell is capitalist guerilla art? When Eric Garner sold his mixtape in front of the bodega they called that a crime, but this guy dumps a 3 ton statue in the middle of the street and it’s guerilla art? It’s privilege art. That’s why no one cares about the original context and meaning of it.
    Here’s an idea. Put a Pepsi in fearless girl’s hand, and have the police choke both artists to death. Then this capitalist shit show will come full circle.

    Liked by 2 people

    • What the hell is capitalist guerilla art?

      I know, it sounds like an oxymoron. A lot of people are disagreeing with my characterization of the bull as capitalist guerrilla art. I think it meets all the criteria of guerrilla art even though it was produced by somebody with privilege and financial security. If guerrilla art is privately created, unapproved art located in public without permission, then we can’t reject some works because they were created by capitalists, or right wing Christianists, or some other group just because we might find their beliefs offensive.

      As far as I know, the bull is the only example of capitalist guerrilla art. Mainly because capitalists usually have more ‘legit’ avenues for getting their work out in public.

      Like

  29. Agreed on all points; however, I am reminded of a Carl Sagan comment that says (Completely paraphrased…maybe even incorrect, as I don’t excel at this) the universe is still beautiful after exposing/describing the science behind it. While Fearless Girl subverts Charging Bull, and while one is guerilla art and the other is corporate marketing, all but a few will ever see the duelling statues in this context. The average Joe and Josephine, especially as time passes and the details of this article become trivia questions, will see the clear inference – business, a man’s game, and ruthless, is challenged by innocence and gender. If I were the artist – the villification of the bull would be my greatest concern.

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  30. Something else for people to waste time on. Who cares? Excellent bronze of a charging bull, poorly made bronze of a child, it’s all theatre and not real life. Talk about distract the masses.

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  31. What if the girl were moved to a spot just ahead of the bull? I mean, it makes sense in that fearlessness should be backed by the power of the people. Saying “we have your back, girl, do what you can” is an empowering, if idealistic statement.

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  32. I think that particularly given the fact that Di Modica placed his statue in a public place without any permission takes away his moral authority to say what else should be placed in the vicinity. Both artworks can be appreciated separately or together. If he’s able to dictate what happens to Fearless Girl, then that’s just one more victory for the patriarchy, in my opinion. I appreciate your analysis of the conundrum!

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  33. The simple fact is, the artist neither owns nor dictates the meaning of his or her art once they have put it on display. The meaning and interpretation has become a part of a conversation and no-one CONTROLS a conversation (you can try to direct it but, in my experience that is akin to herding cats in a tuna cannery). The conversation belongs to the people viewing the art.
    As for ownership of the bull, I would argue that, by installing the sculpture under cover of night and without permission the bull became the property of the city of New York. And that’s an argument that could be made in court…..he “gifted” it to the city. Legally, a gift once given, cannot be taken back unless the recipient offers it back……

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  34. I agree with you! And I disagree with you!
    I mean that! And I don’t mean that.
    No seriously. I don’t think Di Modica needs to take this so seriously. So his bull has been there since I was about the age Fearless Girl appears to be. Well, I get that he’s Italian and inclined to get fired up, but sit tight, Di Modica, and keep on putting the real story of your piece out. Trying to censor others just doesn’t really help, though.

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  35. The bull market is a threat to all Americans, now, whatever it’s sculptor intended, the reason the market crashed in 87 is vitally important to this discussion because it is essentially the same reason it did so in 08. Which is to say rampant greed unchecked by effective regulatory agencies, and a complete lack of a corporate conscience. The bull market, like a real charging bull IS a dangerous, thoughtless thing that often tramples smaller things in its path. The girl, reminds me of an ancient Cretean ritual from which both the legend of the Minotaur and the modern bullfight come:The art of “Bull dancing”. Fearless lithe and well trained athletes squared off in an arena against charging bulls. They would vault over the bulls, do acrobatic tricks on their backs etc (if they slipped and we’re killed by the bulls it was thought the gods demanded a human sacrifice that year, if the bull was goaded to exhaustion, it was sacrificed instead) Fearless Girl is a reminder that the charging bull market is not tamed and guided with strength or power, but agility and intelligence and that knows no gender

    Liked by 5 people

  36. I think it’s an excellent reply to the original artwork. Who cares if it’s a commercial enterprise, it doesn’t wear that on it’s sleeve. I fail to see the bull as a symbol of patriarchy, that is just a shallow contemporary interpretation. It’s a little girl standing up to a bull…it’s amusing, it’s cute. That’s it.

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  37. Whereas the artist may feel like his meaning is adulterated by the new statue, I would contend that it this happened long ago with the bull, in a way, becoming more synonymous with the arrogance and overpowering strength of Wall Street more so than the strength of the American People as a whole. Basically the exact opposite as seems was intended, having been placed at a time when big business really did represent the strength of the nation. Fast forward to today, I would see the girl as representative of the people and a strength that in itself is very much needed – a symbol that could/should reinvigorate the very message that was originally intended.
    What I find interesting is the focus on patriarchy – the fact that it’s a girl, and looking at it from the perspective of the bull as an aggressor toward a female. It’s a child. It’s innocence. It’s the meek standing up with confidence in front of an imminent threat. If it was a little boy, I am certain there would be those who would see and focus on the confidence and say, “of course it’s a boy, why couldn’t it depict a confident little girl?” Rather, being a girl, “we” see it from the bull’s point of view and the threat it represents. The fact that it’s a girl, if it were consequential to the display at all, could be applauded if we were to so choose – despite the disappointment of it being a marketing gimmick.

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  38. I’m sure someone has suggested this – but maybe Arturo could turn his bull 90 degrees? Then the girl is cheering the bull on, and the bull is not threatening the girl at all. (I’d say turn it 180 degrees, so they’re both going the same direction, but then it looks like she chased it away.)

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  39. Di Modica argues that Fearless Girl changes the context of Charging Bull, but I would argue that Fearless Girl exists because the context of Charging Bull has already changed. A minor plot point of Mr. Robot season 2 (filmed in late 2015/early 2016) was a group cutting off the testicles of the Charging Bull statue and dropping them from the ceiling in congress. Occupy Wall Street appropriated the image of the bull as a symbol of greed as well. Charging Bull is an edition of five: another bull resides at a gated community in Florida which is home to billionaires, many involved in investment management, so the statue has been bought by the same Wall Street types.
    Fearless Girl may be a commissioned piece, but if people don’t know that it is an ad, is that still important? It exists as a different symbol in the public sphere, just as the bull exists as a different symbol in the public sphere. Placing any art in the context of a public space is transformative of the original intent and meaning, and often itself appropriative of the context of the space. Not that any piece can be separated from its origins and funding, but it should be considered as part of the work’s entire chronology. Much of the western canon of art exists because they were commissioned by patrons to promote status, wealth, and theology, but those works have accrued a different content through history. It’s possible for Fearless Girl to emerge as a positive figure with dubious origins and Charging Bull to represent malevolent forces despite positive intent.
    But hey, if Di Modica wants the statue back, maybe he could sell it to another country club for the rich.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Fearless Girl may be a commissioned piece, but if people don’t know that it is an ad, is that still important?

      That’s a more difficult question than it appears on the surface. The fact is MOST folks won’t know it’s part of a marketing campaign, because most people aren’t in a financial position to invest big chunks of money. On the other hand, you can be sure the folks who DO make investments of that sort are well aware of SHE, and it may influence their investment decisions.

      And on the third hand, SHE is intended to support women who occupy leading positions on corporate boards, which can be interpreted as a good thing. And on the fourth hand, State Street Corporation itself only has three women on its board.

      So, does it matter? Absolutely not. And yes, it absolutely does. Depending on your income

      Like

  40. When an artist puts their work into the public realm, they are putting it there so that people (the audience) can react to it. I have learned that not everyone sees my artwork the way I see it, or intended it. In fact, often they see the opposite of my intention. This reaction creates a conversation. And that is what was created when the bull first was illicitly installed.
    The installation of the Fearless Girl creates a new conversation – one that society and individuals need. Art is not, or should not be, a static form of communication. It is only when it is alive in the public mind and creating discussion and controversy that it truly is public art.
    The creator released his bull on the world. Now he needs to let the world react – even if it is not what he wants. The piece has not been vandalized or diminished in power. In fact, it highlights the strengths of his intentions and the conflicts in society that need to be addressed.
    Both works of art are powerful alone – together they are dynamic, controversial, and alive. They need to be left together to challenge each other and the viewer.

    Liked by 3 people

  41. These few paragraphs sum up my thoughts better than I could say myself.
    Fearless Girl also changes the meaning of Charging Bull. Instead of being a symbol of “the strength and power of the American people” as Di Modica intended, it’s now seen as an aggressive threat to women and girls — a symbol of patriarchal oppression.
    In effect, Fearless Girl has appropriated the strength and power of Charging Bull. Of course Di Modica is outraged by that. A global investment firm has used a global advertising firm to create a faux work of guerrilla art to subvert and change the meaning of his actual work of guerrilla art. That would piss off any artist.
    Should Fearless Girl be removed as Di Modica wants? I don’t know. It would be sad if she was. Should Di Modica simply take his Charging Bull and go home? I mean, it’s his statue. He can do what he wants with it. I couldn’t blame him if he did that, since the Fearless Girl has basically hijacked the meaning of his work. But that would be a shame. I’m not a fan of capitalism, but that’s a damned fine work of art.
    I don’t know what should be done here. But I know this: Arturo Di Modica has a point. And I know a lot of folks aren’t willing to acknowledge that.

    Liked by 6 people

    • Perhaps the ‘Charging Bull’ meaning was already evolving before the Fearless Girl, potentially after 2008? Perhaps it was already symbolizing greed and injustice and not “the strength and power of the American people”. For me the Fearless Girl means that she is there to die, to sacrifice and she is being brave about it. Maybe she symbolizes “the strength and power of the American people”. That is the thing about art.. The meaning is in the eyes of the beholder. Artists don’t own the meaning, they own the piece of art.

      Liked by 2 people

  42. Yes, but it is art. Most art pieces were create for a reason by its creator, but each individual sees something different. For me it adds to the original art, makes it new, starts a different conversation. For me the bull is havoc, a bull market, then the crash and carnage. The girl represents those who are hurt in the aftermath.

    Liked by 4 people

    • In fact, I find the friction between the two images and their intents and their interpretive meanings very stimulating. Is that not also a possible “purpose” of art? Certainly it is often the effect. This article highlights the way the intentions behind these two pieces affect our perception of them. I’ve often pondered if this diametric opposition isn’t a sort of definition of profundity.

      Liked by 3 people

    • No
      The little girl is a paid symbol of a huge international corporate global asset fund mamager which exists to create massive profits and are the cornerstone of extreme raging capitalism symbolised by the “Bull”
      If anything she should be standing in front of the bull protecting / leading it forward to greater profit.

      Liked by 1 person

    • it’s mock art – it’s a faked sentiment for the purpose of hocking a product. It may be art, but it’s sold out art from the get go and it’s ‘meaning’ is entirely contrived. It’s also highly unrealistic. I’ve seen what a bull can do up close and personal. Any girl that stands like that in front of one that is acting like the one the original artist depicted is about to become a rag doll. Determined or not, she’s about to get a serious butt whoopin!

      Liked by 3 people

    • A very self important assessment, I must say.
      By what prerogative do you claim to change the intended significance of a work not only for yourself – so long as you keep it private – but for everyone else who views it? The artist’s intention should be acknowledged always and your response, like that of everyone else, is a critique of the artist and his intention and so has everyone else the right to make their own critique.
      Here we have a highhanded action directed towards deliberately misleading countless potential viewers regarding the intention of the artist, thereby preempting their right to make their own informed assessment. Who made you their keeper?

      Liked by 1 person

  43. You know, this whole thing could change meaning drastically if they simply placed the girl and the bull facing the same direction – the strength of the American people, coupled with whatever ‘Fearless Confident Girl’ means to the viewer, facing the headwinds of adversity together.

    Liked by 17 people

  44. I think Di Monica is disingenuous in claiming that the bull represents the spirit of the American people. He dropped it in the financial district, home of the *bull market*, capital of capitalism.
    When you place a piece of public art, you let it go.
    I like the girl. My “clean slate” interpretation was that she was standing up to capitalism itself, patriarchal or not. And most, without the background info, will probably think something similar.
    I am disappointed that the girl was commissioned by bankers (what a twist!) but suspect that the artist and advertising firm may have had some subversive fun at their client’s expense.

    Liked by 9 people

    • It’s “the strength and power of the American people”, not the spirit. Putting it in Wall Street is entirely appropriate since it’s freedom, and the capitalism that is inextricably linked to freedom, that is the source of America’s strength.

      Liked by 2 people

    • I disagree that “when you place a piece of public art you let it go”. The integrity of the work should not be violated. The public that views it should not have their right to make their own informed assessment preempted.
      I question further whether this is a “piece of public art”. It still belongs to the sculptor.

      Liked by 2 people

  45. Why does a work of art lose it’s meaning or power because it is commissioned by a wealthy person or organization? Most of the great works of art from history were commissioned by the wealthy. The best examples are the works of Michaelngelo, 90% of which were paid for by the Medici family. So we just remove the paint from the Sistine Chapel? I had no idea it was advertisement for anything so it’s actually a marketing failure.

    Liked by 5 people

    • The problem is this wasn’t just commissioned by a wealthy organization. It was commissioned as an advertisement for them. That’s the whole point of the “SHE” part. Even if you don’t realize it was an advertisement for something, that doesn’t change the problem with the scenario.

      Liked by 2 people

    • A bit of history here.

      The Medici family was a family of bankers. The wealthiest and most powerful of their time, and commissioning artists, like Da Vinci, then “donating” their skills to the church, was a way for them to display that. So, in essence, it was advertisement. It showed they were so successful that they could just give away great works of art and not be put out financially. What better way to tell the common man how secure their money would be, or the potential profit that could be earned by investing with them.

      Now, I don’t have a problem with corporations paying artists, but they should ask permission before taking advantage of another artist’s work. You don’t see people adding on to “The Mona Lisa” or “The Last Supper”. They are unique and powerful on their own.

      Liked by 2 people

    • I guess you did not get what the post wants to point out.
      Charging bull, the one that’s on the brick of losing its original meaning, was not a commissioned piece, it’s a guerrilla art.
      Fearless girl is the commissioned one, which seems to be a feminist representation but actually it’s not. It’s a just a marketing tool for a corporation and their ticker symbol is SHE, indicated on the plaque.
      Fearless girl subversively changed the context of Charging bull, from being the strength of American people into a patriarchal/misogynistic one. Ironically, showing off a symbol of feminism (a girl) yet propagating a different agenda.

      Liked by 2 people

  46. I didn’t create the sculpture of the bull, so we may not share the same perspective. But I like the tension between the two objects– a symbol of raging capitalism being stared down by a brave little girl. Seems like a perfect metaphor for the moment we live in.

    Liked by 4 people

  47. Art changes all the time. The context changes all the time. The MOna Lisa once hung in Mona’s husband’s living room, now it hangs in the Louvre– and on a few thousand walls in various re-imagined works as well. Di Modica can be glad– he’s in good company.
    https://www.google.com/search?q=mona+lisa+parody&newwindow=1&tbm=isch&tbo=u&source=univ&sa=X&sqi=2&ved=0ahUKEwjTg8XZ4qfTAhXHhlQKHVrlDmcQsAQIIg&biw=1604&bih=851

    Liked by 2 people

    • But imagine someone decided to paint eyebrows on the Mona Lisa? It changes the art work… that’s what Greg is getting at. By placing a statue of te little girl, it changes the context of the bull, it no onager represents the unity of the American people.

      Liked by 1 person

  48. Thank you for your nuanced and elucidating article on this subject. I was neither aware that Charging Bull was intended to represent “the strength and power of the American people”, nor that Fearless Girl was an advertisement for an index that focuses on women in business. Personally, I have never interpreted Di Modica’s statue in this way. To me, the bull has always seemed to be an excellent representation of Wall Street, in particular, the power of a bull market, but in general the dominance of the stock market over the overall economy. The bull as sculpted appears aggressive, in the middle of a fight or stampede, ready to trample or gore anyone who gets in its way. I find this to be an accurate representation of what the stock market and entitled investors do to much of the rest of the economy. Publicly traded companies are expected to constantly grow and constantly raise profits. A company whose business covers its expenses, makes a small profit, but doesn’t grow enough, will be punished with low stock prices. Companies are pushed to over-expand, merge, buy other companies, and get as close to monopolization as the government will allow. The whole economy is seen to ride on the back of this model, making investment firms “too big to fail”, though rises in stock market value often don’t lead to corresponding rises in the labor market. This is all very different from the small business “main street” model. The bull has always appeared to me to represent the raging stock market inequality rushing forward to trample those less fortunate and those who lose out when they bet wrong in the market. I have always seen the bull, with that mean look in his eye, as the villain, regardless of Di Modica’s stated intention. We are all just the crowd running down the street away from the bull, exhilarated by the run, perhaps, but also hoping not to make the wrong move and get gored.

    Fearless Girl may be advertising, but it is advertising for something that actively works to counter certain aspects of inequality in the marketplace. The gender stereotype says man’s focus is the money and woman’s focus is the other needs of the family/community. Woman standing up to Wall Street, saying “No, you will not run roughshod over our country,” – this is one of the potential meanings I see in Fearless Girl. In a way, Fearless Girl directly artistically represents the actions of a fund that is standing up to the status quo of market forces, which I believe needs to be done. We need more investors who incorporate company structure and ethics as part of their decision on whether or not to invest in that company. Still, I agree that the statue’s status as an advertisement is off-putting, and the fact that it advertises a stock market product takes away from its potential symbolism as an anti-Wall Street figure. Aesthetically, I don’t believe Fearless Girl matches up to the grace, power, and dynamism of Charging Bull. As a sculpture, I find Di Modica’s work to be far superior. I agree that Fearless Girl derives its meaning almost entirely from its position in confrontation to Charging Bull. Without this juxtaposition, Fearless Girl is a technically excellent – but not particularly interesting or engaging – piece of art, most likely to be seen in a garden somewhere and not garner national attention.

    Liked by 13 people

    • I don’t entirely agree with you, but I love that you’ve put so much thought and consideration into your response. That’s a lot more important in a discussion than total agreement.

      Liked by 4 people

    • I was beginning to agree with you, right up to : “Fearless Girl directly artistically represents the actions of a fund that is standing up to the status quo of market forces”
      Sorry, but no: SHE (the fund) is not managed by a female, and state street has only three women on their board, an none in senior management that I can find on their web page. In fact: Looking at their web page it is uniformly pale an male.
      Gender diversity is not even a stated value in their Values Section. Their expressed values are:
      * Boston WINs
      * Corporate Responsibility Reporting
      * Economic Responsibility
      * Environmental Sustainability
      * Social Consciousness
      * State Street Alumni Network
      (Note: Gender equality falls under Social consciousness where it comprises a 2 sentence paragraph as the last of 4 sub-headings. Hardly a front and center priority)
      It does not even rate a mention in their own Social consciousness reporting (http://www.statestreet.com/content/dam/statestreet/documents/values/2015_CR_Overview_Final_Web.pdf)
      This is “talk the talk” without “walking the walk”. This is pure exploitative marketing, a ploy to fake sincerity without actively doing anything to solve the problem. Make no mistake, the only reason the firm has a fund like SHE is because they are making money off it. They have no altruistic bones in their bodies.
      So you, like many others, were taken in by a shell game: Look at the statue, not at our board. Look at the street, not our trading floor. Read our press releases, not our diversity stats.

      Liked by 4 people

    • You are entitled to respond as you in fact respond to the work and to critique the artist in a penetrating way. You are also entitled NOT to be hustled or manipulated into making a particular response – and so is everyone else.
      Your response is not everyone’s response nor need everyone endorse your response. They are entitled to make up their own minds and should be left to it.
      Your critical comments are interesting and, I dare say, insightful. Thank you.
      Your remark that “Fearless Girl derives its meaning almost entirely from its position in confrontation to Charging Bull” makes the essential point – and acknowledges the theft.

      Liked by 1 person

    • I think if he objects to the dynamic that his sculpture has found itself to be a part of he should remove it. As you said, she would become simply “confident”. I remember when reproductions of the Mona Lisa with a mustache were popular. It was a passing phase reflective of something at the time…

      Liked by 1 person

  49. Regardless of what Di Modica intended, that bull represents the worst parts of late stage capitalism and what I regret is that someone from Occupy didn’t manage to take a baseball bat to it and reduce it to dented slag. And then afterwards move on to those monsters in Wall Street who have been screwing the rest of us for decades.
    Nothing about these oligarchs taking over this country now is noble or worthwhile, they are not humans, they’re monsters. They don’t care about the same things actual humans do, they only exist to exploit us and justify that exploitation well enough to stop us from grabbing torches and pitchforks. They are not good people and frankly Di Modica, who loves capitalism so much, can piss off too.

    Liked by 4 people

    • Seriously? You’re using the tools of the very “Capitalism” to post this shite?

      How would you like it if someone took that selfsame baseball bat to YOURSELF?

      Not so nice, is it. Keep your bullshit to your goddamn self, k?

      Liked by 5 people

      • “My god, Karl Marx, you say you are anti-capitalist and yet you write with a PEN on PAPER, you hypocrite.” Also a statue is made of BRASS. Also you write like a Russian troll, bye k

        Liked by 2 people

    • No it doesn’t. You can’t say “Regardless of what Di Modica intended” and then simply proclaim your own meaning.
      And being that the “oligarchs” didn’t like nor want the statue there in the first place. what empty nonsense of a point would your desired destruction of his personal art serve other than your own simplistic gratification?

      Liked by 4 people

  50. Here’s the thing, she’s not guerrilla because corporations have commodified the supply chain of art. Artists have been exploited for their ideas ever since Karl Marx figured out what exploitation was in respect to capitalism. Its been going on in advertising for centuries. Any artist who seems to have their “finger on the pulse” for lack of another hackneyed phrase has been approached by advertising folks to see if they can use them. The time lag amoung anonymity fame and has been status has shrunk to milliseconds. This piece, reguardless of its origins is a great riff on the original sculpture which, let’s face it, was boring as hell. The best thing about it was that he didn’t have permission to do it. The best thing about the girl is that it not only exists in it’s own right but also totally updates a worn out idea. All art is commodified now with the exception of outsider artists and the ones who haven’t been bought yet. He should stop complaining and realize that she makes him matter again.

    Liked by 2 people

  51. Seriously, the guy’s a jerk. Works of art are displayed together all the time. And they are often placed to juxtapose. IMO, it’s rather arrogant for this guy to think he can hog the stage. The manspreading artist?

    Liked by 3 people

  52. This: “Appropriation art is, almost by definition, subversive — and subversion is (also almost by definition) usually the province of marginalized populations attempting to undermine the social order maintained by tradition and the establishments of power.”
    is a debatable point. Most landmark instances of Appropriation — Baudelaire and Parisian street culture, Duchamp and the Readymade, Warhol, Richard Prince, Jeff Koons — are powerful entities leveraging the status of art to exploit the labor and class cultural habits of others.
    It is a myth that appropriation is subversive. The affect of subversion is merely cover so that the powerful can remain powerful.

    Liked by 2 people

  53. You raise some interesting points here, and with your permission I would love to share this with my students. The one point of feedback I offer is that citing your sources with more than just an in – text link will lend you more credibility than the average person and enhance the legitimacy of your point — thus defending your argument from someone trying to play the “troll” or “alternative fact” cards. It also means that someone reading this on a mobile device (like myself) doesn’t have to flip through all those in – text links to see where you get your information because most people won’t. Sometimes we as writers on the interwebs have to appeal to the laziness of the masses if we want to encourage fact-checking: it is one of the few tools that remains for us to keep the growing climate of ignorance and fear at bay.

    Otherwise, this is an interesting and enlightening piece with powerful debate potential at heart and its conversational tone keeps it from being a dry read.

    Regards,

    A teacher who grades too many of these.

    Liked by 2 people

  54. Art takes on different meanings based on where we are as a society… it evolves just as we do… Charging Bull once reprensented that this country needed to unite and overcome an obstacle. Now our country needs to do this once again, his work combined with this new work will help unite us once again for a new obstacle. If anything I believe this has once again brought the Charging Bull to life, with a new purpose… like a living, breathing piece of art…it has evolved!

    Liked by 2 people

  55. Well, she has permission to be there and he never did. So the way I see it, he does have a point. And based on his opinion, and his point, his only and best option in a free nation free market is that he has the right to remove his work of art.

    Liked by 3 people

  56. Frankly, both statues were “gifts.” One can not control what people do with gifts. Some artists when they gift a piece are very specific, in writing, how the gift should be displayed. It looks like neither really did that.

    Liked by 3 people

  57. I don’t think the artist has much standing here – successful public art is percieved/consumed by the public, the motivations of the artist & patron can ultimately mean very little although in this case it does take the shine off the girl but like the Statue of Liberty being second hand will people care. The Bull has become a globally recognised symbol of Wall Street – theres probably more association with the golden calf in the Old testament then the energy of the American people. Someone mentioned the Sistine Chapel, there is compelling evidence that the Franciscan Popes who commissioned the place believed that Saint Francis was the second coming and that the discovery of the Americas was the rediscovery of Eden, they thought they were characters in the Bible and the ceiling besides the final panel painted 30 years later is preparation for Revelation. None of the patron’s demented fantasies are known by the public – the skills & affectations of the artist remains but what happens is largely projections by the public – a skilled artist allows for this or at least accepts it

    Liked by 3 people

    • Except that Dimodica is still the OWNER of the Statue. He is the owner and possessor. The fact that Fearless Girl is an advertisement seriously insults a still living artist.

      In most creative fields, the commissioner/presenter/designer, when involved with another creator, ASKS the first creator “Can we do this?” if they have any concept of respect for the artistic community to which they belong.

      This didn’t happen.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I understand that perfectly, they can commission what they like. Are rich people not entitled to piss people off through art just as much as middle class hippies wrapping wool around lampposts?

        Liked by 2 people

      • What rich people are or are not entitled to has nothing to do with what I wrote. The fact remains that there is a fundamental difference between commissioned works and noncommissioned works in this context.

        Liked by 2 people

    • I do not know if I believe the Artist dedication story . Think about it. Wall Street didn’t want it. Because they interpreted it negatively. So the Artist placates them by making up a story , a all American story or lie that gets his wish fulfilled and at the same time let’s them off the psychological hook ,because now they can relate it’s attribution to a lie . Satisfies both parties . However the truth always gets revealed 30 years later true, but now we know the true significance of the original art by the imposition of the second regardless of history or the present attitude of the artist he just doesn’t like that his lie has been unmasked . His is they’re same pride. Doomed to the truth . There is nothing in this world that will expose you for who or what you really represent in your lifetime like a woman. Anybody Brave enough to argue that point?

      Liked by 1 person

    • When the Bull was placed there, what other sculpture had its significance changed in consequence? There was no theft then as there undoubtedly has been by the placement of the Girl.

      Liked by 1 person

  58. I don’t disagree with the idea of this post, but I go a little Roland Barthes on the subject. The intention of the artist is not important. That global investors used global advertisers to fake a piece of guerilla art is unimportant to the question of his claim or the social dialog of the moment.

    The average person is not going to know that SHE isn’t just some awkward capitalization. The average person is going to bring their own experience, views, perspective and knowledge to their experience of the artwork. That the bull was intended by the artist to become a symbol of X, does not mean that is the symbolic meaning it holds Artists don’t get to decide the symbolism assigned to their work, that’s not how semiotics works.

    Intentions don’t matter. Fearless Girl was intended as a shameless promotion masquerading as guerilla art. Charging Bull was intended as an ode to the power of American capitalism. Those intentions don’t permeate the objects themselves, and the narrative they tell on a broad social level is very different.

    As far as your claim that he has a point… no. He doesn’t. HIs claim is not that they are using the power of his piece. It is that they are altering the meaning of his work by having placed their statue nearby in a manner which violates the Visual Rights Act. That is not the spirit of the law he is citing. If they had defaced his artwork. If they had modified his artwork to change the meaning, then yes, he would have a point. Placing another statue nearby is the heart of the communication that is art. They didn’t modify his statue. They didn’t alter his artwork. They didn’t place their statue in any way that makes it seem as if it is part of his piece. It is clearly a reaction to the piece. In dialog with the piece. They entered into conversation with it. And even if it was a tawdry marketing stunt, it doesn’t matter. Because that isn’t how the world is reacting to it. No one cares about the stock, everyone cares about the message they read into it. Whatever message that is. That is art. Art doesn’t happen in the form of physical objects, it’s an internal, individual and highly personal experience.

    Sorry, that was all a bit of a soap box. But there we go.

    Liked by 8 people

    • They didn’t place their statue in any way that makes it seem as if it is part of his piece.

      Are you kidding? That’s exactly what they did. Everything from the location to the orientation to the material was specifically chosen to make Fearless Girl part of the piece.

      Liked by 3 people

    • The average person is not going to know that SHE isn’t just some awkward capitalization.

      I agree with much of what you say, including the comment above. But it’s important to remember that the marketing strategy isn’t aimed at the average person; it’s aimed at those who invest big chunks of money in index funds. They know what SHE stands for, even if the average person doesn’t.

      As far as your claim that he has a point… no. He doesn’t.
      They didn’t modify his statue. They didn’t alter his artwork.

      Fearless Girl changes the context of the work, and by doing so changes the meaning of the work. I’m okay with that personally (although I’d be more okay if Fearless Girl had been a true work of guerrilla art). Before, the bull wasn’t charging anything in particular; now it appears to be charging a sweet little girl in a dress and ponytail. That makes a difference.

      Sorry, that was all a bit of a soap box

      Fearless women shouldn’t apologize for taking a place on the soap box. You made a thoughtful, cogent argument, some of which I happen to disagree with. Ain’t it great?

      Liked by 3 people

      • Then I would question what exactly is wrong about marketing for a fund that aims at improving the diversity of an industry dominated by men. Marketing is simply a tool to help spread the word, and it does not make anything more or less sinister. It is the ultimate intent of the marketed product that defines it’s morality. In this case the advertised product may indeed bring positive impact potentially. And if the target audience of the symbol SHE is the Wall Street traders, that’s great, because they do need to learn more about diversity, and in a language that they will understand.
        Second, while it certainly does sound cooler that Do Modica sculpted the bull and installed it himself, I don’t think it’s necessarily any less cooler that an advertising team has to wade through numerous red tape of bureaucracy to make the fearless girl happen. America certainly tends to have its crush on vigilantism and downplays the importance of cooperation, which in a way is an interesting contrast between masculinity and femininity, imo.

        Liked by 1 person

      • maybe the first artist or a third party could “readjust” the meanings of BOTH works, by placing a third work, between them, on which they’d both be focusing their strength… something like a giant bronze dollar, or stack of money, perhaps, something to give them a common focus… something that restores the artist’s original intentions without subverting the best interpretation of the girl statue. Fight fire with fire…. sort of.

        Liked by 1 person

    • The apparent intention of the placement of the Girl is to manipulate people into viewing the two pieces as one work. This IS vandalism.
      If it were just a matter of juxtaposition to facilitate comparison that would be quite a different matter. Perhaps that could be considered to contribute towards the communication that is art. The manipulative intention evinced here is the antithesis of that.

      Liked by 1 person

  59. Actually, as someone that’s made a living as artist for many years and has continued to study art, I’ve always thought the bull statue was rather bland. Now that “Fearless Girl” has been added it’s much, much, more interesting, even if (or especially if) you completely ignore the statement it was commissioned to make. And by “especially if” I mean it would open itself to a more personalized interpretation for each individual viewer.

    Liked by 3 people

    • If the statements made by the two pieces can be ignored the combined piece presents as rather CUTE. Is that what pleases you?

      Like

  60. The girl should be removed. She is doing three things; one-misrepresenting the female and her great many reasons for why she is confident. I don’t need a statue to speak for me as a woman. I’ll do that myself; two, the companies are using the super imposed female disposition created by the patriarchy to make money. Money that won’t help me or any other person who’s female. It’s not for US it’s for they and them and their money, their gain and to shut us up with a resounding condescending “Look what we did! We hear you but we’re not listening. You should be grateful it’s a girl and not a boy, right?” And finally, it does change the meaning of the Charging Bull piece and should simply be removed.

    An additional reason is the fourth; the statue is representing the entire female power with the body of a little, under developed, naive child. That is insulting. Women are more than “girls,” address us as women, lady, our names, but ESPECIALLY what we tell you to. Yes-TELL you to. You will listen to us.

    That’s my gazillion dollar change.

    Liked by 6 people

    • “Women are more than “girls,” address us as women,”
      Well what I get from their choice of the little girl rather than a grown woman, is to remind people that our conditioning and assumptions begin early in the expectations we place upon our young. As well as to accent her bravery in the face of a much larger, crazed animal.

      Liked by 1 person

  61. I have to agree with your sentiments here. If your work of art manipulates or changes the meaning of my work of art, through simple placement or proximity, you have co-opted my intellectual property and I have to right to object. Whether or not that will matter to the marketers who placed the work there is another story.

    Liked by 4 people

  62. I think this could be filed under: “misappropriation of soul”. Di Modica really should take that power away and just move it…directly behind the girl .That would be like stealing back it’s power. Like it’s saying the people (the original meaning of the bull) are behind this female figure. Then put a bust of Trump in front of the girl. It would be like art imitating life.

    Liked by 3 people

  63. if the company purchased the bull from the artist how would that change the meaning of the work?

    i get that it is advertising but for the public it has its own meaning. the same or similar to that of the bull origionally. if the artist sold the work so that the whole both the girl and bull together still stood for the origional purpose would that be enough? guess the artist will always be fucked over!

    Liked by 2 people

  64. Reality check on some of the leftist comments
    The little girl is a paid advert, a marketing tool of a huge international corporate global asset fund mamager which exists to create massive profits and are the cornerstone of extreme raging capitalism symbolised by the “Bull”
    If anything she should be standing in front of the bull protecting / leading it forward to greater profit.
    Trying to put a leftist progressive spin on it is so just so much ……Bull.

    Liked by 2 people

  65. A decent solution would be for someone to get a crowbar and in the middle of the night remove the SHE plaque, guerrilla style. It would subvert State Street Global’s objective without disrupting the meaning people will inevitably take away from the imagery itself. Keep the art and let people discuss its meaning, but get rid of the ad for an index fund.

    Liked by 2 people

  66. A decent solution would be for someone to get a crowbar, go out in the middle of the night and remove the SHE plaque, guerrilla style. That would subvert State Street Global’s objective without disrupting the inevitable meaning that people will take away from the imagery. Keep the art and debate its meaning, but at least get rid of the ad for an index fund.

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  67. Foul. Just foul. The other artist wants to modify the original artist’s creation to suit his own vision. Instead of creating a separate piece and sculpting his own bull, he wanted to ride in someone else’s established and popular work. Regardless if the resulting work’s message is cool (“a girl can stand up against anything”) it is obvious that the girl’s sculptor just wanted to ride in someone else’s hard work to gain milage points. He hides behind a message when he’s just actually being a a-hole and wants publicity. Sculpt your own bull, place it somewhere else and don’t change someone else’s work.

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  68. The artist who made Raging Bull placed his sculpture specifically on Wall street. He claims that the sculpture represents the American people. He also claims that Fearless Girl changes his meaning.
    I would argue that when he placed the bull on Wall street, that context changed its meaning. It speaks now only about wall street and not the American people at large. He is ignoring this fact while now saying that the context that the girl adds matters. It cannot be both ways.
    Wall street now has a somewhat negative image and Raging Bull seems to carry the negative aspects more than any positives these days. The context of the time it was placed perhaps gave it a positive air of resiliency and strength in a dark time. Now however it seems out of control. Untameable. Reckless. Dangerous. And yes a bull is all male and symbolic of male virility and sexual prowess and toxic masculinity. Add this to the context of wall street and to an extent the idea of business. There you have the exclusion of the female power in business, finance, leadership, wealth. It’s a tricky business, the way symbols change meaning over time and di Modeca wants to cling to his intent devoid of context.
    It doesn’t work that way. Art does not exist in a vacuum. Especially art specifically placed in a context.
    This is why I do not sympathize with the artist here. Times change. Attitudes change. Context changes. And Fearless Girl is a welcome comment to the symbolism of the bull.
    Actually I think Fearless Girl helps bring a universal feeling to the bull that was lacking before. Without her, the bull is primarily a symbol of wall street. With her it’s a symbol of many different challenges women and girls must overcome, both on Wall street and business and in other aspects of everyday life.
    So yes. Fearless Girl changes the meaning of the bull. But some of that meaning was there before and just hidden by male privilege. It’s natural that art evolves. This is how it stays relevant.
    Now. On to your point about RG being a commissioned work designed as an advertisement. This actually doesn’t trouble me that much. The work stands on its own and has so much power in a larger context that again changes that intent. Additionally as someone else has noted, the advertisement failed because few people knew there is a product being pushed here. And as others have noted, commissioned at is just as valid as non-commissioned work…

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  69. I do not know if I believe the Artist dedication story . Think about it. Wall Street didn’t want it why? Because they interpreted it negatively. So the Artist placates them by making up a story , a all American story or lie that gets his wish fulfilled and at the same time let’s them off the psychological hook ,because now they can relate it’s attribution to a lie . Satisfies both parties . However the truth always gets revealed 30 years later true, but now we know the true significance of the original art by the imposition of the second regardless of history or the present attitude of the artist he just doesn’t like that his lie has been unmasked . His is they’re same pride. Doomed to the truth . There is nothing in this world that will expose you for who or what you really represent in your lifetime like a woman. Anybody Brave enough to argue that point?

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    • I do not know if I believe the Artist dedication story . Think about it. Wall Street didn’t want it. Because they interpreted it negatively. So the Artist placates them by making up a story , a all American story or lie that gets his wish fulfilled and at the same time let’s them off the psychological hook ,because now they can relate it’s attribution to a lie . Satisfies both parties . However the truth always gets revealed, 30 years later true, but now we know the true significance of the original art by the imposition of the second, regardless of history or the present attitude of the artist he just doesn’t like that his trying to hide the truth in plain sight thru a lie has been unmasked . His is they’re same pride. Doomed to the truth . There is nothing in this world that will expose you for who or what you really represent in your lifetime like a “good” Woman. Anybody Brave enough to argue that point?

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      • The Artist deserves a great commendation for successfully​ hiding the truth in plain sight for over thirty years. He and his friends just underestimated a “good” woman’s ability to sniff out the truth and snuff the liars. However when that Woman is actually a little girl who will grow up to be a Woman it’s time for the liar’s to start thinking about Elimination of the weakest principles, but to they’re own chagrin how do you preemptively strike at a little girl without unmasking yourself further? I love Good Art.

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  70. A lot of great art through the ages was “sponsored” by wealthy people as a form of propaganda. But a lot of it hangs in the Met. Advertising can be art. And this was a brilliant concept that someone got a corporation to pay for, that’s how advertising works. It wasn’t SHE that had the idea, it was a former art student who is now an art director. I love that these two pieces have come together and started a dialogue, inspiring different interpretations. Isn’t that what all good art does?

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  71. I totally agree with you and I got spanked, too.
    I responded to a retweet of de Blasio’s tweet by a well-known director and got into a discussion about this. I was surprised he responded. I was more surprised how people and especially other creatives were willing to dismiss that Arturo Di Modica may have a point and a right to defend his copyright. More surprising was how forcefully they argued that the Fearless Girl was not purposely created to be paired with Charging Bull and was not dependent on it for her very existence. We tweeted a bit back and forth. After I posted a link to a Guardian article that included a video of a representative of the investment firm stating that it was commissioned and put there to interface with the Charging Bull, I was blocked by said director. Maybe it was that link. Maybe it was just the persistence of the discussion, i don’t know.
    Feelings are very strong about that little girl. I guess the PR firm did their job.

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  72. The meaning of the capitalist system has changed, the bull became, even before the girl was installed, a symbol of capitalist oppression, trampling the helpless in the name of financial greed. Fearless Girl just stripped the last threads of illusion away.

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  73. The girl doesn’t change the meaning of the bull. It still represents economic progress and prosperity. Placing the girl there, says women oppose progress and prosperity. It is a terrible, terrible, terrible, message and the girl should be removed.

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  74. Sure, he has a point. But his point doesn’t supersede other, probably more important points. He wanted to make a public statement. That has drawn a public response. So it goes.

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  75. > State Street Global Advisors, which has assets in excess of US$2.4 trillion.
    No it doesn’t *have* those assets, it *manages* them. They *belong* to millions of ordinary people, in pension funds and the like.
    It’s those ordinary people who get swept up in a raging bull market, and get crushed by the bear.

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  76. This article is blah blah blah blah blah. It was Beyond not interesting and slanted in a way you “believe”. Pathetic. The US is better than this jibberish, that girl rocks and your over annalytical perceived nonsense it ridiculous. Go back to your cave.

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  77. The idea is alive. There should be no conflict at all. Move the ‘fearless girl’ beside the ‘charging bull’, facing the same direction. The essence of both ideas is strengthened, becomes dynamic, and positive. There is already too much conflict and aggression in this world, that there is no need for more conflict.

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  78. Maybe part of the strength of the charging bull is that he is changing direction, in dismissal? of the more vulnerable “Fearless Girl” (or something Di Modica had already subconsciously implied), with respect, and the bull has been aimed at some other target. A perfect compliment that infers one thing (possibly fear of the girl) but implies the bull has made a choice. It takes nothing away from either work.

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  79. I feel for the original artist. The new artist has incorporated the bull into his art, so the bull’s art no longer exists. Especially as the girl doesn’t reflect feminism. It reflects the idiocy of standing in front of a charging bull.
    But for those who say art changes and all is fair – hmm. Well, maybe I’ll comisssion a piece of art of a nightmare horror, place it behind the girl, and entitle it “the dangers of overconfidence”. All those praising the girl statue will have to praise mine too, or else be revealed as hypocrites!

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  80. Thanks for this interesting discussion and good to hear about the complexities of the history of the two works – a quick, possibly uninformed thought:
    1. The bull’s original ‘meaning’:
    I also like the idea of it as a ‘guerrilla artwork’, though it does seem a little incongruous to consider a $350,000 3-ton bronze statue as a somehow subversive artistic statement, juts by virtue of the resources it takes to create the work.
    I don’t know enough about Arturo Di Modica or the statue to judge his original intent, however, so lets take its meaning at face value for now:
    Representing “the strength and power of the American people” could mean a lot of different things to different people socially and politically, ranging from (what I, with my political slant consider) the benign & uplifting to the downright ominous (think about all of the disaster our political movements throughout history that have claimed to champion the ‘strengthen and power’ of their constituents).
    Greg’s piece above implies the more benign (again, by my slant) interpretation, in that ‘the people’ loved it and ‘the assholes who ran the NYSE’ didn’t. So by this reading (and you could certainly contest the assumptions here), the piece was evoking benign ideals and proposed by a powerful establishment for which the artwork and the ideals it represented were an inconvenience at best, threat at worst.
    …which is Greg’s point and one jobs of subversive art, so so far so good, I think.
    2. The bulls appropriated meaning:
    If this was the artists original meaning (and whatever NYSE’s original objection) there’s a pretty convincing argument that its meaning had already been appropriated long before the girl came along. I’m not an art expert, and I didn’t know the history of the bull but I definitely knew it existed, and I definitely associated it with the capitalist establishment.
    Every depiction of the work in popular culture and media has re-enforced its association with “the strength and power of American capitalism” (and the wall street version of American capitalism at that). That it would mean anything else is frankly surprising to anyone coming to this discussion for the first time (which is the reason the girl works in the first place, obviously).
    …so either by conscious appropriation or just the shifting tides of social meaning (themselves inextricably influenced by the same system), the more benign meaning proposed above had already changed – I think there’s a pretty good argument that this would have been the appropriation for Arturo Di Modica to object to.
    3. The girl’s pre-appropriated meaning:
    …and so comes the statue of the girl, with its corrective to the Bull’s socially understood meaning that we all love and that those of us who are not activists we probably feel should have been championing before a $2.4 trillion investment fund came along and did it for us.
    There’s a broader point here about how our involvement in a system that does not necessarily reflect the world we want creates dissonances within us which the system itself can then package-up and sell back to us. The ideas are real – the question is whether we are comfortable with entrenched interests telling us how and when to have them.
    Despite how it looks it is not necessarily a pessimistic message – it implies the system needs us just as we may need (some parts of) the it. There also might be an argument that without OWS and other movements the marketing firms would not have considered it timely (or profitable) to move into this space and represent our ideals for us. Either way the lesson it should teach us is the sheer necessity of vigilance, empathy and critical thought of all of us (which is why I like this thread).
    As for what to do about the statues now I’m not sure – I like the new message, but it wouldn’t have been great if Arturo Di Modica or others had beaten the establishment to the punch and re-installed the ‘people’ into the work long before now…

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  81. Historically, the stock exchange was a LlVESTOCK market. Cattle were part of that, though too many bulls would probably have created havoc. Steers, pigs milk cows. Goats, sheep, etc would have been more in keeping with the place. Also, I believe Wall Street was the original site of Columbia College, and I think there is a plaque somewhere which asserts Columbia Univ’s continuing claim, modified by an easement for city use. So probably the Columbia trustees should determine how to deal with bronze litter on their sidewalk.

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  82. It’s really a matter of placement and orientation to one another. By placing her in front it gives a false forced meaning to the bull, a projected opposition. Both objects oppose the same thing… Can’t they stand in unity side by side defying a common foe they both oppose?
    The $10m dollar question is did the artist of standing girl know the original intent of the bull? If not… that means there is a forced relationship and history is being ignored… knowing what we do now… I still pose the question, why can’t they stand united?

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  83. I think they’re both fine where they are. We can look at Charging Bull and see it as the power of American labor in pursuit of the American dream, and we can simultaneously look at Fearless Girl and see it as resistance to whatever scapegoat we imagine to be bearing down on her. I honestly wouldn’t have looked for articles like this, or any other source that explained Charging Bull’s history, if Fearless Girl hadn’t drawn attention to Charging Bull.
    That said, I am concerned that Fearless Girl might represent an intellectually dishonest argument; that it wasn’t created to celebrate the strength of girls and women even though it would be seen that way, nor was it intended to promote the Gender Diversity Index fund as it claims, but rather, was intended to make Charging Bull look threatening to a girl.
    Di Modica has every right to have his statue displayed elsewhere, and if he did it, Charging Bull would lose its negative association. It’s likely that once people forget that Fearless Girl used to be staring at Charging Bull, Fearless Girl would lose its positive association too. But I hope he doesn’t do that. Charging Bull really is subject to both positive and negative interpretation, and it would suck for Fearless Girl to be reduced to shilling for an index fund. Moving either piece would diminish both, in my view.

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  84. The little girl statue is a testament to runaway female vanity exuded by our culture. Everybody knows that little girls are not leaders — how could they be; they’re just starting out in life — yet everybody participates in, nay, celebrates, the charade. Adults humor the silly overconfidence of children. The association of female leadership with an uppity postured bronze girl, is a clear declaration that we’re indulging women when we put them in leadership positions. Everybody’s patting the girl on her head, precisely for her vanity. Look at her! I wouldn’t be able to devise an installation more insulting to women, if I tried. Yet the irony deepens, as women celebrate this whole debacle as a sign of female empowerment — closing the loop, and demonstrating that, maybe, the insult is deserved after all.

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  85. In regards to the fact that ‘Fearless Girl’ was commissioned by a big company and meant as an advertising tool, a huge part of art history is populated by pieces that were precisely that.
    Most of the work that people revere today was commissioned by powerful and rich people and often contained propagandistic overtones.
    The idea that art has to be ‘pure’ is quite a new and kind of unrealistic one. Where there’s art, there’s usually money.
    Also, the recontextualisation of a piece isn’t a new or shocking concept. I think Duchamp and Picasso would agree. I think it’s par the course in art.

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  86. Well, I’m disappointed to learn that this piece was created by a global investment firm as an ad campaign — but the power of its cultural impact remains undeniably positive and inspiring, and I would encourage Di Monica to reframe and embrace this evolution.
    I can understand why Di Modica would be pissed off by corporate appropriation of his piece, which suddenly makes his symbol into the villain of the story…but if he’s able to see beyond his original intent, he might recognize that his piece now represents the “the strength and power of the American people” more profoundly then ever before.
    If Di Monica is truly committed to honoring American ideals and celebrating what makes this nation great…he could chose to embrace this shift in metaphor. He could chose to embrace the way it empowers women everywhere in their fight for equality and access in a male-dominated economic system.
    “Charging Bull” effectively became a major symbol of American capitalism and power. If Di Monica has the humility and grace to recognize that this symbol is bigger than him now…and see that his piece is now part of a duo that serves to inspire our nation toward greater heights of freedom and equality…he would be doing a great service to the country he admires so much. Given the profound systemic inequity women still face in our country, I hope he can put his ego aside long enough to serve the greater good and permit this new metaphor to stand tall to inspire millions more.

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  87. Oh the dilemma. Thank you for pointing out both sides of a difficult situation. I agree there is no easy answer as to a plan of action. I also see her as standing against a bullish market which can be seen as standing against the best interest of our country. What to do, what to do? In my heart I think she needs to go. She in essence is a bronze billboard. This opens the door to so many undesirable scenarios.

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  88. Maybe… the meaning of art is in the mind of the person experiencing it. You create and object and you only own your own meaning, not those of other people. That’s why a hip hop version of Mozart’s requiem is still music. Still beautiful. Still meaningful.
    The bull is a man’s conceptualisation of the power and strength of the American people. The girl is a woman’s. That’s my idea. A woman happened to create the girl, and where did she get the money? A man created the bull and where did he get the money? Why is one funding stream valid (though undisclosed in the post) and another not? Plenty of women work in finance, nothing inherently male about the fund described.
    I love the thought-provoking post, and my intention is an objective, scientific approach to questioning the logic of the objections expressed, not critiquing those objections.
    Enjoy the art. Di Modica paid for his bull somehow. Remember that: He didn’t pay for the space it’s in, or pay for monopoly of anybody’s response to it. He put it in a district where the finance industry pays the taxes that keep the street repaired and clean, and he gets his work seen because of that industry. If he doesn’t like the response they commission, he, like the individuals who experience his bull, can suck it up. I hope it makes him think.
    Maybe he knows the source of all his funding was 100% ethical, but his point can be raised to question the funding of all creative projects including his own. There’s potential irony for you.

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  89. I have no problem of the fearless girl being co-operate or that the bull is not. I get Di Modica original intent. But that argument aside the question we have to ask if a relatively small bronze statue of a girl with a pony tail staring at his art makes it so easily a negative he has to ask. ‘Is my original message really what I thought’
    Because his argument screams of privilege and a co-operate statue of a girl changing his message so easily acknowledges that.

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  90. I think she should be moved, placed next to the bull .. This way she does not lose her defiance against the world (not the bull thus changing what it represents) and that the bull should of course stay….or the girl should be put somewhere else …she has acheived international recgonition and ca stand on her own. The bull should not be removed … One should not be used to change the message of the other….after reading this i almost feel that the commisioned work is trying to shame out the non commisioned work…and we must now protect both…

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  91. Thank you, Greg, and also to everyone who commented. It was wonderfully refreshing to read about the many layers of meanings, and how contradiction exists, even within one person’s perspective.
    I myself have no particular opinion on the meaning of the two statues, but I really enjoyed reading the article and the conversation that followed. I often reflect on the multiple stances in issues. In a world where everyone is so certain that they are right, seeing multiple sides of an issue is often paralysing. This article and discussion has encouraged me to be … well, to be less paralysed!

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  92. Artists can’t choose what their art pieces are are going to be exhibited next to. That’s the someone else’s job. Once an art piece is exhibited, it belongs in a sense to the public to take what meaning they want from it or interpret how they want to. Therefore he can’t protest it changing his context, the same way an actor or actress can’t complain about the way the film turns out. The artist is still only a part of the process that includes commissioner, artist, audience, critic, and so on in a full context. Nobody says you can always fully control the context. The art piece either belongs to the world or he can take it back.

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  93. Yeah, I can see why the original artist would be ticked. If I were him I would sneak in again & move the bull. Or just rotate it 180 degrees 🙂
    This is no different than if someone had done a painting, & somebody came along & painted an extra person into it. Sure, the original is still there, but it isn’t the same painting

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  94. Yeah, let’s bash the artist, and act surprised when – with his work not being what he wants it to be- he sells the Bull to a private collector for millions. The girl can take it’s place, although she’s more likely to be sold out as well, having served SHE’s purpose. Then we can analyze how patriarchal oppression destroyed yet another public good, and plead with the new owner to sell back the Bull. Perhaps even pay for it with public money, thus effectively paying for SHE’s campaign and our stupidity and misguided arrogance Any way you look at it I don’t see the feminist message in there. Taken literally, the girl is just suicidal; taken metaphorically, it puts down women more than it gives them power except if women should be overjoyed and thankful that a corporation decided to try and placate them with a female statue)

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  95. THE VIEW FROM ACROSS THE POND
    The bull stands for only one half of the American people, and the half of that half which is aggressive, macho and threatening. You know, like Trump. It’s an ugly thing, move it, I’d say.
    The the Litte Girl doesn’t have to be there as a corporate advert, fine though she is.
    Let the company in question buy them both, to be situated in their building, where people can view them if they like…

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  96. Di Modica has a point. And, since that statue is legally his, he has the right to remove it.
    although, there is another point to be made. Art, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder. Often what people see in a painting, or sculpture, or any other art form, may not be what the artist intended to convey. That is sometimes unfortunate, sometimes serendipitous.
    Little does it matter what the commissioner of the fearless girl mean, what she is shouting at the world is her true meaning. It is, however, unfortunate that the meaning of the bull changes in the process. It is no longer what the artist intended not what the oublic understood thus far.
    Personally, I would like to see the sculptures remain in place. Perhaps a plaque with an explanation could help. At the same time, I do understand Di Modica’s point. I do believe he has the right to remove his statue. I wander how the two would look side by side…

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  97. As an artist, I think it’s important to leave them both there, BUT add an explanation of them.
    In other words, pretty much duplicate this article in some way and post it there.
    See, art is personal. Not just to the artist, but the viewer as well.
    Charging Bull represents american fearlessness to the artist, but it means many other things to the public. In MY mind iy represents an unstoppable evil in Wall street…but that might just be the hippy i. Me talking.
    Honestly, a real artist needs to keep that idea in mind: Art is different for everyone. Everyone has different perceptions. AND art can be fluid.
    You don’t force YOUR perceptions down people’s throats. You let them discover it.
    Now Fearless Girl is also a powerful piece….for the public. But for the artist, who was commissioned, it probably means less.
    But when added to Charging Bull, it makes something amazing.
    We can’t ban something (in this case remove) because someone doesn’t like it. While Mark Twain’s books contain a disparaging term for black people, it is important for people to see it and understand why it is there and how perceptions have changed.
    In the case of Charging Bull and Fearless Girl, it creates one of the best stories I’ve ever seen about art.
    To remove either would be a tragedy. Just add a sign or two that talks about their history and what they mean to different people.
    Get the public thinking about perceptions of others. Let the public decide for themselves if Chargeing Bull has morphed into a symbol of patriarchal power, or if Fearless Girl spits in the face of strong women because it is a clever advertisement. But most importantly, let the public see that art DOES HAVE VALUE.

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  98. Let me get this straight: a ‘socially relevant and subversive’ piece of art supports the financial machine, that’s ok; but the financial machine supporting a piece of ‘socially relevant and subversive’ art, that’s a problem. Oh fuck off.
    Di Modica allows his work to be commodified and interpreted by anyone in politics or finance. Who knew this backstory of the bull? Who cares? Where is Di Modica during the 2008 crash, complaining Wall Street ripped everyone off?
    You park your ‘analysis’ in one step back from the frontside of this; but take another step back and that analysis evaporates.

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  99. The bull has been gentrified like everything else in the city. Just usurp the culture and meaning of something, turning the original idea banal. Remove the girl, this is graffiti in my opinion. Would you draw a little boy on the Mona Lisa?

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  100. I never knew the story of the bull. Maybe Fearless Girl should stand next to the bull. Together we draw strength from each other and face adversity. I do love the Fearless Girl and TBH I think the artist’sintent behind the bull has gotten lost. The bull, to me, represents a bullying sense of greed. But I see it differently now that I know the story.

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  101. I get why Arturo di Modica is upset. I get that the message of the raging bull is subverted. I get it.
    But what I would say to di Modica is that the Charging Bull, is a symbol. What a symbol represents changes over time, as the world changes. And the world has changed. In 1987, the financial markets collapsed. By the time the bull appeared in Wall Street in december 1989, the Berlin Wall had collapsed or was collapsing, symbolising the disintegration of the communist economies. Capitalism appeared to be the only way to organise economies. So, it might have been intended to represent the strength of the US economy but it also represented the strength of capitalism.
    Today, some 30 years later, the world is again different. The rampant capitalism of the last 30 years have resulted in the rise and rise of the richest 1%. The same capitalism has resulted in the fall of real incomes of just about everyone else. and the impact of all this capitalism has resulted in the election of Dump, a cheat, a liar and a sexual molester happy to grab any woman’s pussy if she were pretty enough and a bully to women he deems not attractive enough.
    Yep, I’d say world has changed. And this Charging Bull, this optimistic symbolism of capitalism, needs to be aware that it represents darker aspects of capitalism.
    As for the girl in this statue? She’s every human being, man, woman, girl, boy or LGBT etc.. She’s not just female. I don’t really care why she was conceived and by whom. I care that she was conceived.
    And di Modica should be grateful that his work of art, this symbol of optimistic capitalism is still relevant, even if it represents darker and sadder messages. Let’s hope that he remembers that when life gives you lemons, make lemonade.

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  102. There’s also the very important context of the concept of “bear” and “bull” markets on Wall Street. That’s why the statue *is* a bull. In finance and especially regarding stocks, a bull market is characterized by optimism, investor confidence and expectations that strong results should continue. A bear market is the opposite; characterized by falling prices and typically shrouded in pessimism. So, Di Modica is exalting the bull as the ideal and the hope, and as a reaction to the 80’s long streak of “bear” market. I just think that fact is very important when regarding the bull as a separate piece of art. The bull is a symbol of economy, *placed on Wall Street itself*, which alters its meaning significantly when considering Fearless Girl (a piece of art I like in itself). So she’s facing a charging bull, okay, but she’s also facing… a strong economic market? Which she wants to… what? It doesn’t really make sense to me. It’s not “just” a bull and it’s not a bull for just any reason.

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  103. Yes he has a point and yet, we can ignore it. History will define the meaning of the work.
    Namely, the feminine imperative idealised in the form of a protected, entitled, little princess that seeks to hold back the masculine drive that is competitive capitalism. The solipsism embodied in this female statute is a brilliant, giant, middle finger to the commissioners of this piece.
    To truly represent the current climate she needs to have a reinforced barrier protecting her from the brutal reality of the market place.

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  104. Its all about identifying and giving something a specific meaning unique to who we have become and how that is individually defined – are your identifications the same as the identifications of others? Of course not. Can we change the identifications of others to our own? Probably not. Why would we have the need to?

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  105. Thank you. I love that you took the time to enlighten us all to the “history” of these two beautiful works of art. Maybe this article could be posted on a plaque at the sight so people can see them both for what they truly were meant to be. I agree, I love both pieces for what I feel they can represent. The resilience of the American people and the inspiration for strength of women and girls everywhere.

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  106. The little girl, as fantastic as she is, should be placed elsewhere. The original art work of the bull should stand representative of what the artist intended. You would not go to a museum and add some other artwork to represent your own thoughts and feelings. So why do it here?

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  107. The statue of the girl did not transform the bull into a symbol of patriarchal oppression. That symbolism had already come to exist over time. The statue of the girl merely acknowledges it. Di Modica might not like that the original meaning of his creation changed, but the girl didn’t cause that. Wall Street itself did.

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  108. Very good comment. However, to me in these days it gives the girlstatue an even deeper meaning in a time when rampant nationalism is running pretty wild. It becomes a meta-comment on the ongoing political narrative, the brave single small individual standing up in the face of “the stregth of the American People” as represented by a raging bull. You really do not need to even insert a feminist narrative into it, it becomes a pure symbol of bravery in the face of the juggernaut. The addition of the stue gives the whole piece a really good depth and dynamism, and for me that makes it rather unimportant who paid for it and who owns it, it has alerady become a integrated sculpture of two pieces already, thesum being greater than the two parts. Or to put it short, *it works*.

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  109. Well this nicely explains what Charging Bull was originally intended to symbolise, but that is certainly not what it represents to much of the world.
    Today, it symbolises the threat posed to all humanity by charging, raging, out of control Capitalism.
    Somebody once said, the opposite of poverty is NOT wealth, it’s justice.
    That Bull, with all its power and strength, cares nothing for justice, or compassion. It is the epitome of unrestrained, irrational power, and thus it perfectly represents Wall Street as it is today.
    As a sixth nine year old man, I say that Fearless Girl represents me too.
    Because she symbolises those who are without resources, without power and without voice, yet are still able to find a way to say, “Enough! Stop your destruction, before you kill us all.”

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    • It would be better if the writer would “commission ” a sculpture of a bear for Master Sculpture Di Modica to produce and display. Why does public art have to be free. In this case free means I didn’t pay for it and I don’t care if anyone did.

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  110. The girl was originally placed in front of the stock exchange looking up at it. That was the meaning originally intended for it. The original intent of the artist who made the bull is interesting. Put where it is, it has come to be a symbol of Wall Street rather than the American people. That is what has co-opted the meaning of his piece. If he still owns it, perhaps his best move would be to move it. I am not sure even that would remove the meaning it has come to have but perhaps with time it could change.

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  111. What if they moved Fearless Girl? Instead of having her challenge the bull, stand her on its left hand side, looking in the same direction. Then the message would be that ‘the American spirit’ doesn’t just have to mean bullish strength, which is a relatively exclusive masculine image, but also the fearlessness of women and girls. Everyone working together.

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  112. “It’s all about the bull. If it were placed anywhere else, Fearless Girl would still be a very fine statue — but without facing Charging Bull the Fearless Girl has nothing to be fearless to.” — If the bull weren’t placed on Wall Street within striking distance of the Stock Exchange, it would simply be an animal statue. Context is indeed everything, here. For BOTH pieces. Not to mention Wall St types now embrace this bull as it’s talisman and mascot…rather than ‘the strength of the American people’, it now, for the most part, symbolizes the strength/aggressiveness/bravado of the stock market and it’s money. Whatever the artist thinks, the meaning behind the bulls changed with the times…it is not a symbol of patriarchal oppression because of the girl…it has been that symbol for a long time. In fact– placed on it’s own, the Fearless Girl statue, within striking distance of the stock market and on Wall Street is MORE relevant today than the bull. Ad gimmick or not, a young girl facing down the biggest boy’s club of all says more right now than a dodging bovine.

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  113. If I were Di Modica, I’d find a way to finance a removal of the bull, place it in a poor part of NYC or anywhere else in America where people are struggling thanks to the assholes on Wall Street. Let the capitalist girl statue stand on her own in faux-feminism and all its alleged artistic glory and merit and get this bull crap over with.

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  114. You can use a semiotic argument to say that all art is infinitely interpretable, and so placing the girl opposite the bull is just another juxtaposition that allows for more free association of meanings of the bull. Or not. I don’t think you can ignore the deliberate manipulation of images by those who wish to control our gaze and control the meaning that we see. That is what advertising is all about. Cleverly manipulating images to actually close down various options or interpretations and guide us to see what the marketer wants us to see. We are being manipulated by the fearless girl creators in a whole suite of ways…the choice of a girl rather than a woman, the choice of her clothes and stance, the text near the statue: all create a faux feminist message which is strangely non-threatening and sweetly appealing, though basically meaningless and vacuous (the companies who commissioned this piece do not in fact meet gender equality goals in terms of female management etc). Sure, people may view this and see some other meanings, but I think the majority of people are actually buying a very cleverly manipulative message. And Di Modica does have a point.

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    • It’s worse than vacuous, it’s delusional. Suppose that both pieces were to magically come to life. Fearless Girl becomes Trampled To Death Girl approximately two seconds later, assuming that she doesn’t become Horrifically Gored Girl instead. Third Wave feminism relies on denying reality.

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  115. Interesting post, thanks. Like many of the other commenters here I always took the bull statue to represent the uncontrolled and violent nature of capitalism, particularly bullish markets.
    If I was the artist, my tendency would be to re-orient the bull to try and steal the power from the advertisers. Turn it 90 degrees to the right or left. 180 degrees perhaps has some unfortunate symbolism of the fearless girl (/advertising companies) having defeated the artist and forced a retreat. A 90 degree turn would keep her in place but render her defiance objectless and therefore confusing and strange.

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  116. I don’t buy the idea that she is a fraud. SHE seeks to help address gender inequality in corporate America by offering investors an opportunity to create change with capital and seek a return on gender diversity. That is not a bad thing at all. And it is a method of resisting male-dominated control over the economy so she is not a fraud. If Di Modica doesn’t like it – tough. Things change, he needs to move with the times. And if that means moving the bull, that is his right. The little girl will remain a symbol of defiant change with or without the presence of the bull.

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    • No one would look twice at the girl if she weren’t placed in front of the bull. In fact, she’s a parasite of the bull, leeching energy from it with no benefit to the bull. Kind of sums up modern feminism and it’s impact on modern society.

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  117. I’ve read one too many sanctimonious “intentional fallacy” type comments in response to this blog post, which keep ignoring that the bull was originally removed by Wall Street. This blogger isn’t concerned with artist intent but with sociohistorical context. Revisit the notebook from that one English course you took in college, because you’re effigy-burning the wrong critical school.

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  118. First of all, most of the world’s great art WAS commissioned. And to this moment “…Instead of being a symbol of “the strength and power of the American people” as Di Modica intended, it’s now seen as an aggressive threat to women and girls — a symbol of patriarchal oppression…” I say, have you not see how women are and have been systematically oppressed in the work environment? The time for this statue is right and so is the location since Wall Street has one of the worst records with women. But, I agree the artist has a point.

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  119. CORRECT ARGUMENT
    —“In effect, Fearless Girl has appropriated the strength and power of Charging Bull. Of course Di Modica is outraged by that. A global investment firm has used a global advertising firm to create a faux work of guerrilla art to subvert and change the meaning of his actual work of guerrilla art. That would piss off any artist.”—
    In other words, it was an act of theft. If you can reduce it to an act of theft, it’s theft. Plain and simple. Go make your own propaganda, don’t steal from someone else’s.
    The bull is equivalent to a local pagan deity – the symbol of helen in athens.
    Go make your own gods.

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  120. This is a well-written blog post, but I ultimately don’t buy the premise that “the guy has a point.” Much great art, throughout history, involved patronage from the rich and powerful. The Medici family — most notably Lorenzo de Medici — became some of the most noteworthy patrons in the history of art. They were also brutal, Game of Thrones style political figures with many moral failings.
    The problem is that artists need to sustain themselves economically, even when they try to subvert the system. Subversive art that is sponsored by patronage still retains many subversive characteristics, particularly if the message is seen as transgressive. I buy the point that this sponsorship might in some way diminish the work (compared to a situation in which its provenance were truly guerilla), but it doesn’t completely undo the power of the work. And as others have mentioned, I think that the new piece actually strengthens and enriches the original one.

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  121. And here’s another point: It’s a self-destructive feminazi message. There’s a young girl, apparently symbolizing women “taking up space” in the business, brazenly standing in the way of progress and success.

    Think about it! That’s a bull, not a bear. ROFLMAO

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  122. I parallel with the authors feelings in every way but always thought that the Bull represented the bullish stock market, a Talisman to keep America wealthy, and if everyone interprets this art piece the way I did then the Bull lost its purpose long ago and because of that the Fearless Girl should stay. It can serve as a talisman towards gender equality.

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  123. This artist’s point was exemplified in a case in Toronto’s Eaton Centre where commissioned art of Canada Geese hung flying through the mall. Years after the installation the mall tied red ribbons around the necks of the geese for the holiday season. The artist objected–and won–on the basis that his “art” can not be altered in this way. It makes sense when you think about it–and so does the fearless girl objection. You can’t appropriate and artist’s expression just because you want to.

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    • Well, if they’d put the girl on the bull’s back like a rodeo rider, you’d have a point.
      But they’re not parallel cases at all.
      And you ABSOLUTELY can appropriate an artist’s expression just because you want to. Art in response to other art is the life-blood of the creative dialog and the only reason certain pieces of amazing art exist is that they were responses to other pieces.
      The artist can control what he or she makes. They cannot control how people react to it, including what art they make in response. That’s actually a vital part of the way art works.

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  124. I agree with the author and the sculptor. Why, of you put Leonardo da Vinci’s Mona Lisa face to face with Michaelangelo’s David, it would totally change the meaning of her “enigmatic” smile, wouldn’t it?

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  125. What about, instead of challenging the strength of the American people that the bull represents, the girl is moved to be *in front of* or *next to* the bull. This would: show that the strength of the bull is made all the more by have girls lead or be part of the charge; take the advertising out by repositioning the statue; and, potentially showing the empowerment of women as non-combative. A potential solution because yes, he does have a point. (Please excuse any typos.)

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  126. Fascinating. I didn’t know the history of the bull. So if another artist were to say, move the fearless girl, so she is standing with the bull, instead of facing the bull, we’d get yet another reinvention. One that wouldn’t take the bull’s nor the girl’s power, but make them each more powerful by association, OR more menacing ( perhaps the bull is her pet, if so whom is she sicking him on?) THAT would be pretty gorilla.

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  127. You’re being disingenuous here:
    “and for reasons I’ve never understood, some folks actively dislike history. It’s necessary though. So here we go. Back in 1987 there was a global stock market crash. Doesn’t matter why (at least not for this discussion), but stock markets everywhere — everywhere — tanked. ”
    Actually it does matter. Michael Milkens Junk Bond theory brought to life as portrayed by Douglas as Gordon Gecko in Wall Street helped facilitate the crash by playing a game of charades with the rating system. The very greed and BULLISHNESS of wall street led to the international crash. This reinterpreting as American strength is just revisionist history by Di Modica.
    The index-funded subversive piece of corporate art is actually a perfect foil to this Ronald Regan era inspired piece of americana.

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  128. Except, you’ve not stated what SHE is.” ‘SHE’ is the symbol for State Street’s SPDR Gender Diversity Index. SHE … tracks a benchmark of companies that are gender diverse, and which have higher numbers of women on their board of directors and in executive leadership positions than their peers”
    Three sides to every story.
    http://www.nasdaq.com/article/the-fearless-girl-statue-isnt-a-symbol-it-is-an-advertisement-cm766282

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  129. There’s an argument here about whether art is about the artist’s intent or about the viewer’s response. Considering the artist’s intent is often never known, it seems to me that the viewer’s response will always be more important. I look at the charging bull and think it is about the strength and power of the American dollar, not the people, because the bull is a symbol of money. I look at the girl and see power and defiance of women. Most people won’t know or care about what SHE is. The work is about something bigger than an ad campaign.
    That said, Arturo has a right to be upset and an equal right to remove his statue. But he is resisting the idea that art’s meaning changes over time. Wanting the public to only see what you want them to see in a work of art is about control. Which in the end is not so different than advertising. In some ways, the beauty of this is that no one is seeing Arturo’s or SHE’s intent.

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  130. I have an idea…cast this essay in bronze…and, as a guerrilla piece of art, embed it in the pavement between the two works. It’ll be the first time the denizens of Wall Street have thought about something besides making money…or doing obscene things to Fearless Girl.

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  131. Art in public places is infinitely more prone to being contextualized. If you want your pieces to be immune to reinterpretation, rent an empty room and put it there. He’s being a big baby imo.

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  132. I say he should move it somewhere else where it can be fully appreciated, then replaced with a statue of a man being patronizing toward the girl. Then, her point can happily be made!

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  133. In the spirit of your piece, I agree with some of what you have to say, but I also don’t. You over-emphasizes the fact that it’s a marketing campaign as though it was the main reason why State Street commissioned this work. Yes, they made a Gender Diversity Index that this helped promote, but I feel you lose sight of the fact that State Street, like its peers, makes probably dozens of index funds, a dozen of which minus one that they don’t promote. There are hundreds of these funds now, but there is now one that specifically lets people invest into multiple companies that have greater representation of women in the workforce, or some sort of awareness that is something worth striving for. That is, it’s not just promoting that idea, it’s actually providing an avenue for people to put their money where their mouths are, not excluding State Street.
    Another thing worth mentioning: I’m a guy who works in the financial sector on Water Street (which crosses Wall St.), I invest (and particularly into index funds), and I see the girl and the bull all the time since they are right outside my gym. Up until reading this article I had zero idea this was to promote an index (which, given what I said above, I’ll actually now invest in and even be comfortable with if it didn’t perform exceptionally well or even poorly), but I had zero idea it was to promote an actual good product and not just State Street as a company (something that actually makes me appreciate it more). If I didn’t know it was to promote a ticker, what do you suppose the average Joe and Jane know about that? To them (the Janes especially) she’s a powerful symbol. If Arturo did take the bull back (I hope he won’t) State Street might just put her on Wall St. in front of the stock exchange so she’s not just Really Confident Girl sans bull but still remains Fearless Girl that takes on the male-dominated financial sector (or probably any sectors represented at the stock exchange for the matter).
    At a time when it can be tricky to invest in some places that are doing well as a result of a Trump presidency (e.g., I know the construction sector is doing well now, but I absolutely hate the idea that investing in that sector partly helps fund the construction of a Berlin Wall 2.0 on the Mexican border), this is a very welcome index that State Street developed in my honest opinion.
    As for Arturo’s Charging Bull, I see his point too, and maybe they will ultimately put the girl somewhere outside the stock exchange and still be pretty powerful. But if they don’t, I hope he comes around and sees her endearingly as I and many others do. Just because she’s standing up to the bull at the moment captured between the two, doesn’t mean she will actually stop or just evade him. The only plausible explanations are that she is standing there to tame his wild, perhaps at times destructive, charge or to jump on his back and ride him off into the sunset (like I, and so many others have at one time). As good art goes, it’s meant to provoke a conversation and to have multiple interpretations depending on the audience. While one can chose to have a negative interpretation of it, there are many more positive interpretations available for you to explore as well.

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  134. So chip away the capitalized ‘HE’ in SHE, and make it lower case “She.”
    Seems like a cheaper and clearer subversion of the investment company and advertising firms’ intentions.
    It doesn’t hit the greater point, but I bet it would piss them off.

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  135. The artist relinquishes the rights to their art once they gift it to the viewer/audience. It is then up to us to interpret the response it ilicits in us. So while yes for years Charging Bull represented the artists vision, today’s audience views it differently. It is now a symbol of everything that is wrong with American capitalism. And while it’s horrible Fearless Girl is there BECAUSE of this same capitalism, the audience has chosen to view her the way they want to. In fact if this author hadn’t mentioned it I (& many others) would have no idea about SHE. So that the makes me question who commissioned this article? 😲

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  136. Thank you, Mr. Fallis, for providing your views and the history behind this debate.
    There are ALWAYS more than one side to a story & humanity is losing its empathetic ear. Or did we ever have one? Is the fact that we’re not listening to each other & trying to at least walk in our fellow man’s shoes the reason we’re at this juncture—a huge debate over Fearless Girl vs. Wall St. Bull!!?? But, it’s all good and I’m pleased to see so many debating this. It’s the part of humanity I love so much. Thank you, again, for giving me a fresh perspective. 👍😊

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  137. Good article on the symbolism. My reaction, having been raised on a farm, was to see the scene a few seconds in the future playing out in the real world. A mangled dead foolish girl. From this standpoint the scene represents the many beliefs that people like to have that defy reality. Reality sooner or later wins. This type of thinking can be temporarily empowering but untempered by experience becomes unreal and narcissistic. And as such it represents well America’s Imperialism on the world stage and America’s endless wars, America’s feigned self image as it rages war around the world.
    “In the United States, the CDC estimates that about twenty-two people are killed by cows each year, and of those cow attacks, seventy-five percent were known to be deliberate attacks. One third of the killings were committed by cows that had previously displayed aggressive behavior. People know that bulls are dangerous, and it’s true. When animal behaviorists analyzed 21 cases that occurred across a four-state area, they found that bulls were responsible for ten of the deaths. “

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  138. You missed the point of the Fearless Girl statue, it was never about female empowerment. it’s about those without power bravely standing up to those WITH power. Gender isn’t’ the issue. It’s power dynamics.

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  139. If Fearless Girl stood side by side with the Bull she would still be fearless but the Bull would no longer be a threat to Her. Instead they combine forces to show strength in different but equal forms
    It’s not the statue but rather the placement of her that is the problem

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  140. If you want control over how your art is seen and interpreted, there’s an easy solution: retain title to it. Don’t sell it (or, in this case, install it on someone else’s property without a prior agreement).

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    • I’m confused. DiModica *does* retain title to the bull. “Fearless Girl” was installed on public property with a prior agreement. So what are you saying? Who wants to control the meaning of which piece of art?

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  141. While I do see your point, I would say that any art, can be interpreted in many ways. And just because a piece of art was developed by marketers, IF it still speaks to people and people are moved by its presence, doesn’t that move it out of the “fraud” category and into the category of real art after all? Can art inspire ONLY if it was created by certain people and entities, or can art be created by anyone or any group? I think Fearless Girl is great! I DO interpret the bull as an icon of a cold capitalistic money-hungry society. Regardless of the intention of any art, interpretation is in the eye of the beholder. I love seeing a small but mighty girl stand up to and old establishment of greedy capitalist men. But, another’s interpretation may vary. That’s the beauty of art. No one person is totally correct. (This is true for all art: visual, musical, etc.)

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  142. “As far as that goes, it’s one NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio agrees with, since he said it first (although, to be fair, probably one of his public relations people first said it first).”
    Interesting you felt a need to clarify that Bill said that first.

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  143. You should know!!! You should know that is the intension that counts.
    This is a disgrace for the feminism mouvements.
    This is a disgrace for the work of Di Modica.
    The status quo (the not knowing state), would a symbolic fight won by the worst side of the society.

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  144. Without reading all the comments, I have to say that I don’t think yet that DiModica has a point. He’s thrown a temper tantrum that someone dared to place another piece of art, with permission, in the same public space where he placed his bull without permission. *He’s* not making any of the arguments about imagery and power. Commentators/apologists are making those arguments on his behalf. So far as I’ve read, his only legal complaint has been based on copyright — and I don’t see how that can possibly survive more than the time it takes a judge to read it.

    Symbolism is a wonderful thing. It can have multiple meanings, all defensible and all valid. “Fearless Girl” has people talking about gender equality. Who cares why it was created or by whom? We’re talking. That’s worth something, and if it offends DiModica — well, as has already been said, he still owns the bull. He can always move it someplace more to his liking.

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  145. The artist can interpret his work any way he wants but that bull has always been and will always be about the strength and power of Wall Street/Big Money. The interpretation of art goes to the observer whatever the intention of the artist. No one I know has ever viewed it as a symbol of American might. By arguing for the isolation of the work and what it means to its audience, is to argue for the primacy and importance of greed, money and male power.

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      • The bull is a symbol of a “bullish market”. Ie. economic growth and investment. It may well be where Wall Street and Big Money derive their strength, but that is because it’s where the American people (and indeed the people of the world) derive their strength, too. The bull is NOT about the “strength and power of Wall Street/Big Money, as if opposing economic growth would somehow improve outcomes for women and girls – or anyone.

        The opposite of the bull is the bear. Both the bull and the bear are statues outside many of the world’s stock exchanges. Feminism seems to have focused on the bull simply because they know it has testicles. The bear may or may not be male. They’re missing the economic metaphor entirely. Surely that has to be it, because why would they want to associate with the bear metaphor? The bear is what led to the great depression. It drastically increased the rate of male suicides and homelessness, which doesn’t take place in a vacuum. The irony of a hugely powerful, Big Money, Wall Street company commissioning this girl statue is lost on those praising it.

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    • The statue of the girl is an ad for a financial firm. Is it OK that it’s about greed and power, because it has taken the shape of an adorably confident little girl? Your feminism is being played upon by an ad firm.

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      • For most of history, art was nothing but commercial. Who paid to create it is only one factor in interpreting its meaning. It’s quite possible to consider the ceiling of the Sistine chapel to be a remarkable work of art and to know that the families of Pope Sixtus IV and Pope Julian II are there up there with Adam, Eve, Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, because the popes paid for the work.

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    • Sorry, but context is important, and this author is correct. Since my childhood that bull has had meaning because of where it was placed. It was a symbol of strength in our economy.
      Placing the girl out in front had changed the context. And the new context has hijacked the meaning and power of an icon.
      When today’s kids become adults, they won’t remember that the bull was there​ alone for the decades before the girl.
      But the worst part is that it’s an advertisement–SHE refers to a commercial entity, not the little girl. Shall we allow Microsoft or Chase Bank to erect bronze statues with their NASDAQ beside the girl? Or in front of Lady Liberty, or wherever the advertising works best?

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    • No the bull “has *NOT* always been and will *NOT* always be about the strength and power of Wall Street/Big Money”. This article gives loads of evidence why that’s just factually, objectively incorrect. The bull, in fact, stood for the opposite of those things.

      You didn’t know what the bull truly stood for. You were ignorant. That is not the artist’s responsibility. It is yours.

      But just so I can see if I understand your arguments, here are a couple of parallel hypotheticals…

      So a neo-Nazi can erect a sculpture near a Martin Luther King statue which makes him look like he’s murdering white children? Because to them the statue always symbolised “an invasion against the white race”?

      Or a black supremacist can erect a sculpture near a Benjamin Franklin statue which makes him look like he’s exterminating black people? Because to them the statue has always symbolised “white oppression”?

      Or a chauvinist can erect a sculpture near an Emmeline Pankhurst statue which makes it look like she’s performing a sex act? Because to them the statue has always symbolised “an abandonment of traditional values by women”?

      How the hell can you not see how unfair (to the artist) and inaccurate (for the symbol) it is to suggest that an audience can pervert a work of art however it likes? Simply because that work of art is publicly visible and accessible.

      If you didn’t know the true meaning of the bull, that’s as a result of your own ignorance (as would be the case with all the clearly ridiculous hypotheticals I gave above). Your ignorance is not the fault of the artist and he should not be made to pay for it.

      Is this how intellectually lazy our society has become? That when we’re too stupid to learn the factual meanings of things, we blame the truth for not seeking us out… instead of learning to seek the truth out ourselves?

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      • Well, I don’t know what happened in your art history classes, but yeah, an artist can make a piece of art in response to another one. It’s the basic dynamic of “art as a conversation”. We didn’t feel that we were “intellectually lazy” for reaching beyond the artist’s statements of the meaning of a work to form our own opinions, we thought we were participating in a criticism as our predecessors had for centuries.

        Sir Walter Raleigh’s “The Nymph’s Reply to the Shepherd” is art in response to Marlowe’s “The Passionate Shepherd to His Love”. We study both today (or we do where English classes still ready Elizabethan poetry). You couldn’t have Raleigh without Marlowe, and without Raleigh, William Carlos Williams wouldn’t have had the context to write “Raleigh was Right” (in 1944).

        Art is always a conversation, and what the pieces mean is always open to new interpretation, and what’s lazy is assuming that a work only means what someone says it means or that a work only means one thing to everyone, or that no one else can have say.

        Let art be complex, dude, it’s more fun that way.

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      • Street art has always been about changing perceptions. A significant amount of the perception changing has to do with previous street art and responding to it.
        Ultimately, interpretation of art is left to the observer regardless of what the artist intends. The artist may intend to communicate one view with his art, but if the observer receives a different message the artist has failed in his communication.
        My interpretation of the Charging Bull sculpture is consistent with the Wall Street / Corporate Greed interpretation of many observers, which is not the artist’s intent. I see the Charging Bull in the context of running rampant in a “china shop” fragile stock market.
        Regardless of the origins of the Fearless Girl statue, I see it as a populist response to that rampant bull saying “ENOUGH IS MORE THAN ENOUGH, YOU WILL NO LONGER DOMINATE ME!” The fact that it was commissioned by a greed motivated Wall Street firm as an advertising gimmick is ironical in a most profound way.
        The Charging Bull sculptor has every right to remove his street art. It no longer states the meme he wanted. The Fearless Girl will still have the same powerful interpretation for me. She (not SHE) still represents me.
        NOTE: the use of male gender pronouns uses the standard generalization grammatic linguistic rules for the American Dialect. It is not intended to exclude any other gender.

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      • “Art is always a conversation, and what the pieces mean is always open to new interpretation, and what’s lazy is assuming that a work only means what someone says it means or that a work only means one thing to everyone, or that no one else can have say.”
        Sure art can be interpreted in different ways by other then the artist. Guess what? That’s an opinion. If the artist actually comes out and states their interpretation of the art actually is, then guess what? That is what the artist intended that piece to be about and that’s what it’s about. There can be NO argument or debate about it.
        The whole interpretation concept is bullshit in art. Minus of course the artists past, present and the future that actually don’t state what their art is about.

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    • And you can interpret any way you want too. But there are actual facts behind the sculptures, and I think this post makes good points. The Fearless Girl statue is LITERALLY an advertisement for an investment fund, and commissioned by a marketing group precisely for that. So it’s not exactly anti-wall street/big money. And if you don’t know anyone who considers a “bull market” a positive thing for the economy then I’d question the diversity of your acquaintances. The bull has symbolized economic growth for a very long time, and usually the bull has had positive connotations while the bear has had the negative ones. Like it or not, the Fearless Girl is facing off AGAINST economic health, not against greed in general, and certainly not against wall street, since she is directly marketing for it.

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    • On one hand you appear to advocate free interpretation of art but you ALSO claim that everyone has the same interpretation (your own), even when the artists himself claims otherwise. Quite the contradiction. It’s as if you staunchly refuse to admit the artist has a point.

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    • Fairly sure it works the other way around in terms of interpretation, by which it’s us the common mass who grants it a whole new meaning, while the original artist has his own perspective when he wanted the work to be displayed there.
      Neither are wrong, artwork is meant to be ambiguous and thought provoking, but right now the artist is simply feeling as if he’s attacked by the American people when, ironically, he wanted to show how he sees America as “the strength and power of the American people”.

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  146. You’re allowed to make the art you want. You’re not allowed to dictate how people respond to it. What you might think it means might not be all it means and your loss of the privilege to be the only one speaking in the public square is not oppression.
    His work’s meaning isn’t changed by the other work, a layer of it he doesn’t like is being exposed. The bull is a perfect symbol of Wall Street in the 1980s, the Gordon Gecko “greed is good” era. It’s nice to see someone notice that a charging bull can also do a lot of damage, too
    Frankly, as an artist, he should be thrilled that almost thirty years after he made this work it still evokes enough of a reaction to get a response from another artist. If he doesn’t like the reaction he gets, he should make more art in response, not whine. He should try to be tougher, like the little girl.

    Liked by 3 people

    • This isn’t about toughness, this is about education. He provides the historical context of the bull, which many did and do not have and then explains what the genesis of the defiant girl statue was. After that he offers up a conclusion informed by the background. I didn’t know any of that, my expectation is that most people that read this didn’t either and respectfully my guess is you didn’t. “You’re not allowed to dictate how people respond to it” is what you write and that is correct. What you CAN do and what this author DOES is provide the necessary historical context to anyone that reads and then let those FACTS evolve the perception and consumption of the art. We as a society need to get back to a mentality that can function in a state of adaptation that accepts new information as tools to continuously sculpt our understanding and thus our actions and support.

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  147. He’s also wrong though since art is not a monologue, but rather a conversation and especially guerilla art. If you can’t handle the heat stay out of the kitchen.

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  148. This actually got me really thinking. If the original Bull was about the American spirit recovering. The Bull represented America going forward and getting better.
    But if you think about it, in the last thirty years, we’ve watch income move towards the 1%. The middle class be devastated, and if you look at “economic recovery” since 2008. most of it was seen in the stock market, and not middle and lower class workers. If anything, the Bull has gotten out of control, he’s moved too fast and no longer represents the American people, but rather a small percentage of Americans who’ve benefitted from economy that grew too fast and left many people behind.
    If you think about it that way, then the Fearless Girl showing up now is a perfect response to it. For 30 years, the Bull raged forward but now it’s time to stop. Di Monaco (sorry sp) should think about how what his bull symbolizes has changed and if anything, Fearless Girl has brought back his original intention of representing America. (I know I’m kind of having a Bernie Sanders moment here)
    Basically what I’m saying is this, the original meaning of the art has changed but I think what the Bull represents has changed. The Bull, who once represented America, now only represents a small percentage of the ultra rich and it’s time for Fearless Girl to show up and stop him.
    Di Monaco (sorry sp) perhaps should be grateful that his art continues to evolve and live years after it was originally created. That’s exciting stuff. Maybe he’s just mad he didn’t think about it himself.
    (and yes, I know the irony that the 1% is also responsible for the Fearless Girl but I guess I’m talking more from a purely artistic perception)

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  149. Good background. So now here’s my suggestion.
    The charging bull represents the strength of our economy. The girl represents the strength of women, including women in our economy.
    Greg Fallis says he is not a fan of capitalism. I like capitalism, but only well-regulated capitalism. And I like strong women in good businesses that contribute to society.
    So simply reposition the girl. Have her standing by the bull facing down the same threat. Which, like the 2000 crash, was caused by lack of regulation.
    They are partners, not foes.

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  150. “Fearless Girl” should be turned around and placed with and along side of the Bull, showing that she can be a strong and integral part of a bull market. Together they send a message that would please both artist. She should never have been placed opposing the bull market.

    Liked by 6 people

    • Again, the only reason to do this comes solely from the original statue. The girl cannot stand alone and give the message some want.

      Like

  151. I understand the history and the facts about both statues. However, since few people know the history, the perceived meaning is what endures. And, to be totally true to the context of the origin of the charging bull statue, at the time of it’s creation the statement about the strength of the American people basically referred to the men. Let’s be honest about that. Which further illuminates the statement the girl statue makes and the necessity of that statement. Plus, few people are aware that the girl is meant as an advertisement of anything so how effective I can it be for that purpose.

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  152. Arturo Di Modica should turn the bull into the opposit direction. This would perserve the original context of the of the Bull and, at the same time, disarm the coup of the dishonest girl’s creators without causing any physical damage.

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  153. He should remove Charging Bull and leave a giant pile of brass bullshit in its place to show what happens when commercializations and feminism fuck up good things

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  154. If anything is a sign of male power, it’s “Fearless Girl.” If anything is appropriation, it’s “Fearless Girl.” “Fearless Girl” is by men for men. Melt it down and replace it with art for the sake of women, not an ETF.

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  155. Fantastic read. Thank you for the history. I agree, it’s critical. I also agree with the argument. But, with the history lost, people don’t know that they don’t know 😕 So, I’m sharing this. Because, it’s worth knowing!

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  156. Thought provoking and on the money! The last thing artists and women need or want are clever schemes to exploit their work or their cause. Thank you for voicing your support for Di Modica in on line forums, facing the comment sections fearlessly and explaining the point so finely here. It is important.

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  157. Interesting that the author, a man, would be inspired to both love and resent *Fearless Girl.* Isn’t this a common male response when faced with feminine strength? I’m not a femininist by any means, but I can see the irony in that.

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  158. I like Fearless Girl, but I think she would be better placed in front of City Hall or the United Nations Building. The Bull is the wrong competitition.

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  159. Subtexts exist with EVERYTHING that is put out for public consumption. Sometimes the subtext is intentional. Sometimes, it is not. For example, a Coca-Cola logo may symbolize cool refreshment to some, and a calorie-laden poison to others.
    And honestly, until you pointed out the capitalization of the word SHE in the plaque at Fearless Girl’s feet, I had never noticed it. Probably, millions of people have seen the statue and never noticed that plaque, or noticed the irony in the inscription. No matter how much emphasis they tried to put on the SHE, unless you stand in front of the statue and look straight down at the plaque, and read it with a jaundiced eye, you may not… probably will not… notice the connection.
    Of course, there was the young jackass broker who was videoed “humping” the statue of Fearless Girl. I’m not sure what his subtexts were, and don’t really want to know.
    I respect Di Modico’s artistry. It is a powerful, well-done piece of statuary. I don’t agree, though, that it represents the “strength and power of the American People.” I have seen the statue many times, and to me it has always symbolized the fierce, unthinking, and often unbridled brutality of the Market. And as Darlene Ruiz noted, the observer has to make up his or her mind about the meaning of the work. The intention of the artist has less meaning than the interpretation of those who see the artist’s work, especially in such a public setting in the financial district.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Here’s a thought…It is also likely that although you hadn’t consciously noticed the capitalization of SHE along with lot of others who are surprised to find the work was commissioned as an advertisement, it is still being observed and recorded in your mind. If I was the marketing company trying to build brand awareness, I would continue to take actions that might embed this branding subconsciously as long as I could get away with leveraging the positive associations made by the emotional response to the statue.

      Just notice the next time you see the letters SHE what kind of associations are made. It is starting to become familiar and have deeper meaning already, is it not? This is an effect I have noticed in myself and others whether they know the history or not, whether they love Fearless Girl or not.

      I believe Di Modica has not yet properly articulated what his true challenge with this appropriation is, it may be quite hard to verbalize plus he has legal counsel, lots of people calling him a misogynist in the public sphere, so he can’t just go for it and fumble around until he finds the words that will make people consider his perspective at least as valuable as their own or anyone else’s. Not less valuable because he created the statue.

      For my part, I know that I instantly objected the first time I saw Fearless Girl and I still cannot quite articulate why, it seems completely out of place. The only language I have for it is, that the bull is not our enemy, nature and wild forces are not our enemy, we are of the same system, we do not need to oppose them rather to respect and align with them lest they annihilate us. If the Fearless Girl was a metaphorical symbol that complemented, balanced, checked or protected us from the effects of this “wildness” then that might be different. But innocent, defiant, fearlessness is not it. Essentially the challenge she offers is idealistic AND impotent.

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  160. The bull by itself has a meaning. Placed in the financial district, it takes on another meaning. Di Monica appropriated that context when the bull went up in the financial district, changing the meaning from the strength of the American people, to the strength of Wall Street. Bull Market metaphor became its very simple meaning.
    People will see what they want to see. Funny, the initial opposition was from financiers who saw it as appropriating their space, their message, their property.
    So he does have a sound argument, because the girl now changes the metaphor to a story. Much simpler and easier to understand, reflective of contemporary needs, actually. Abstract metaphors are out. Literal simple understandings are in.

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  161. The bull is a high quality sculpture with a beautiful patina. The gitl sculpture is low quality brass krap from Taiwan. The patina is aweful, I can see the weld marks. I don’t blame the artist for being angry….

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  162. please inform your inner grammar nazi that you didn’t need to put was in quotation marks and the that between wishes and people is incorrect form.
    Great thought provoking article. Personally I’d pull the bull and make their (SHE) advertising meaningless.

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  163. I understand and appreciate the dichotomy of the fearless girl and it’s position in front of the Charging Bull. To me, Di Modica’s argument is null. His Charging Bull sculpture was set in a public place. I understand artist’s rights (I work for an art museum and deal with moral rights of artists as a marketer) but a public setting is subject to whims and trends of surrounding environment. The cultural attribution of the Bull has changed dramatically since its installation in 1989 and the artist cannot deny that fact. In my opinion, Di Modica gave up his right to control the attribution of his sculpture when he put it in a public place.

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  164. I agree with Di Modica, the girl changes his sculpture. As an artist I would be upset too. Since he owns the Bull sculpture and not the city, I think he should move his sculpture. Richard Serra had a sculpture of his removed after the environment around it changed because his piece was site specific. Changing the surroundings changed the work of art in a way it was not intended to be viewed. I can see a future result of Bull/Girl controversy for public art, the artists will start making contracts stating that no other works of art may be place within X number of feet of their work.
    Why is a commentary on a lack of females in finance started with a little girl dressed like she is from the early 20th century? Look at those shoes! No one wears shoes like that now. If you want to make a statement about including women in our time, use women of our time. Not a female child. It actually feels patronizing to me, “sure you’re brave and fearless, but you’re still just a little girl.”

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  165. I absolutely believe the artist should have been included in the dialogue. It’s a dramatic expression of the dynamics of public, even global, conflicts.
    Whoever persuaded the bank to do this was brilliant. Brings up questions like, whose expression matters most in the public space? Whose values, ownership, ethical conflict, art – or is it really a matter of engaging in a dialogue together to co-create it to resolve?
    From breakdowns can come breakthroughs.

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  166. Not a fan of capitalism. Ironic, since capitalism gave us the means and wealth to sit and appreciate the circumstances of such things. People didn’t appreciate art until the 20th century, only the socially elite did. Now, we’re all elite enough to have perspective. For instance, we can now dislike the means to which we attained the means to appreciate such things.

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  167. I can’t believe we have such little sympathy for an artist who created something to celebrate unity and strength, but had his work corrupted (by an ad agency, no less) to suggest the exact opposite.
    People being this easily manipulated is why garbage like the Pepsi ad gets made. The corporations believe we’re dumb enough to lap up any old bullshit, as long as it’s bullshit that strokes our egos—and they’re almost always right.
    Some of the comments are saying, “It doesn’t matter what he meant, it only matters what we say it means now.”
    Do they not see the stunning implications of such a relativist, egocentric stance? A stance with such little regard for *verified* facts and history.
    Yet we’re angry when politician’s proffer “alternative facts” (which is a different side of the same coin). We humans (as a group, if not as individuals) are such hypocrites. We only care about getting our way, not getting at the truth.
    It’s not like the *ONLY* way of promoting the message of gender equality is by perverting an existing work of art. There are countless other ways of ingeniously and publicly supporting the cause.
    But hey, hypocrisy is bad… unless it’s in service of agendas with which we agree, eh?

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  168. Irony in spades! I always thought the bull was put there by the New York Stock Exchange about a bull market aka the strength of our business community and the dollar. Like all works of art, we read into it what we will.

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  169. Actually, he doesn’t have a point. You bring up interesting points about the provenance and placement of the new sculpture. You have a point. But he doesn’t.
    Once art is out in the public realm, artists lose, and should lose, control if the meaning of their work. They can give interviews, write artist’s statements, speak publicly, etc., but they don’t get to control the interaction of other people with that art. They don’t get to protect that art from criticism, or in this case, from artistic reaction. He was one-upped. There was an effective, and transformational commentary on his art. He can answer back, but he doesn’t get to ask for the removal, and thereby the censorship, of that commentary.
    And now, the place where your point gives me historical pause. Art of this scale and public positioning has, historically in the western context certainly, almost always been sponsored by powerful forces. Indeed, that’s sort of their point, and analyzing that, as I think your piece does nicely, is a central part of doing art history. Commissioned art isn’t any less art, even if one is queasy about the commissioner.

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  170. My response if I were him would be to create another statue to replace his Charging Bull.
    A couple of Parents for example walking the other direction but looking kindly back at the girl with a hand held gesture trying to get her to come along.
    That plaque could read; “America is a family, and family can overcome any adversity.”
    With reference to how the US citizens rallied together in unity after the 11th Sept and moved forward.

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    • Or leave the bull and put the parents of to one side ushering the girl to them worriedly, with a plaque “Sometimes confidence can be dangerous.” Then sue the fund for appropriation.
      The message isn’t a good as my previous suggestion but it does allow for expansion.

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      • There a demotivator which has a car driving towards a huge tornado. The caption is: “Perseverance. The courage to ignore the obvious wisdom of turning back.”

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  171. If the bull is supposed to represent “the strength and power of the American people”, why should it be in the financial district? Why not in some park or museum or some other public place?
    If the argument is that it represents the financial strength and power of the American people – well, nearly 70% of Americans have less than $1,000 in savings. Seriously, it needs to be replaced by a statue of a dead bull!

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    • It’s in the financial district because it was created in response to the Stock Market crash, which is something that would have happened in the financial district.

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  172. Honestly what bothers me is that it’s an advertisement. If it was purely an art piece, one that co-opted the existing art piece that would be fine, laudable even, but it’s an ad that’s co-opting art which doesn’t sit right. Don’t we have enough ads already? Ads pretending to be articles. Ads pretending to be news. Ads pretending to be reviews. And now? Now we have Ads pretending to be art. Even worse it’s an ad that’s actually detracting from an existing art piece by co-opting it. It’s effectively negative art, where there used to be one piece of art, there is now a single ad.
    Honestly what would be amazing is if someone stole the fearless girl statue and replaced it with a fearless woman statue, one actually created as a gorilla art piece and a statement about gender equality instead of as a pandering piece of advertisement.

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    • Art has been used as advertising for years. Michelangelo received the commission to paint the Sistine Chapel ceiling because Pope Julius II decided to scale back on a huge sculpted memorial… to himself. (OK, maybe that is ego, rather than advertising, but still.) Toulouse Lautrec is famous for his advertising art. More recently, Adidas has commissioned several pieces of street art, as advertising, as have competitors Converse and Nike. Ditto for Frank Frazetta’s work is lauded… yet many of his pieces were associated with the covers of fantasy schlock novels. In 1939, Salvador Dali created window displays for Bonwit Teller, and in 1961, Andy Warhol embarked on the same sort of work.

      Like

  173. If I were Di Modica I would simply turn my bull around, point the bull’s rear end at the Fearless Girl, simply ignoring here. That is what a majestic bull does when confronted with non consequentials.

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  174. First of all, I would not buy the noble idea that the Charging Bull was a guerrilla art – look how eagerly Di Modica sues anyone who uses bull’s image, claiming his share of possible benefits or observing his rights.. that goes into no comparison to, let’s say, Banksy’s. And before that, one just gets his own $360K after widespread financial crash and makes a statue, then goes around telling it was about “strength and power of the American people”, seriously? Knowing what bull image symbolizes in financial markets, must be the Wall Street people, right? Or the ones who prostrate before grown up Golden Calf? The girl part is just a further iteration of the joke.
    Putting all aforementioned aside, Di Modica of course has a point – the girl is too close. Flipping girl, so she faces away, would still alter the original artwork, however it might have beneficial effect for everyone involved.

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  175. Honestly what bothers me is that it’s an advertisement. If it was purely an art piece, one that co-opted the existing art piece that would be fine, laudable even, but it’s an ad that’s co-opting art which doesn’t sit right. Don’t we have enough ads already? Ads pretending to be articles. Ads pretending to be news. Ads pretending to be reviews. And now? Now we have Ads pretending to be art. Even worse it’s an ad that’s actually detracting from an existing art piece by co-opting it. It’s effectively negative art, where there used to be one piece of art, there is now a single ad.
    What would be amazing is if someone stole the fearless girl statue and replaced it with a fearless woman statue, one actually created as a gorilla art piece and a statement about gender equality instead of as a pandering piece of advertisement.

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  176. I especially liked how this commentator specifically discusses how one can have complex, nuanced views on a subject without having to take an all-or-none position. This ability and willingness to delve into history and complexity is key in our society, where we are constantly bombarded with propaganda that is posing as news, designed to force people onto a fixed position on a dialectic (such as “you’re either for the war or you are for the terrorists”).

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  177. Not a fan of capitalism. Ironic, since capitalism gave us the means and wealth to sit and appreciate the circumstances of such things. The working class didn’t appreciate art until the 20th century, only the socially elite did. Now, most of us enjoy the time and perspective for deep thought and appreciation of the world around us. I.E. We can now dislike the means to which we attained the means to appreciate such things.

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  178. I really appreciate the historical context provided here, and the surprising background of Fearless Girl that I also did not know. Although all of that helps me sympathize with Di Modico, deeply, I wonder if he’s still holding too tightly to the context of Charging Bull 30 years ago and not seeing its how its context has shifted today. Certainly that is his prerogative, but just as people and cities and narratives are not static, neither is art. His art exists in a different context now than when it was first created. That doesn’t change its history or what it meant then, but it would be incorrect not to acknowledge that the economic state now is not what it was. Perhaps Wall Street now needs Fearless Girl just the way it needed Charging Bull in 1989. I am definitely disappointed by the marketing ploy for SHE, though.

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  179. This might be a goofy solution, but they could turn the bull away. That way the bull is more a manifestation of fearlessness and strength. Both of them would be confident and fearless and strong going ‘forward’ and Arturo Di Modica would get a nice smug closure.

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  180. I agree wholeheartedly. Thank you for the explanation. As you explain it, this girl actually becomes a tool of the corporate status quo! Her power is being undermined for their purposes. It is only inspiring to little girls when the do not know the truth. We must be willing to let go of the superficial Pollyanna illusion and stand for the TRUTH. Women: IT’S OUR MOVE. We are being played!

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  181. I haven’t scrolled through all of the comments (so it is possible I’m missing some here), but it surprises me that no one is talking about The Fearless Girl as a marketing tool. This is massively disappointing to me because, unlike the bull, or whether or not the works change each others power dynamic, the fact that she was commissioned as a marketing piece speaks to a much heavier betrayal and appropriation in this story. A stupidly wealthy investment fund has decided to use the renewed national conversation/attention around protest, women’s rights, the poor, and subverting systems of power, to advertise a fund, in the very system that everyone views the bull to represent. That is sick; and now all I see is bull when looking at The Fearless Girl.

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  182. No, he doesn’t. I mean, seriously, the man who used guerrilla art tactics to make his point is angry that someone else (even if a company was behind if) did the same thing? He needs to open his mind, get over himself, and realize that art not being static is a good thing.

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  183. What to do? Announce a competition every five years, a challenge to all the world’s sculptors to come up with a proposal for a sculpture which once again and again changes the whole meaning of the sculpture groupe and let it grow until the square is full!

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  184. The charging bull and the fearless girl should face against the Wall Street building. They both represent the strength of the people, not working against each other.

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  185. This is very interesting. It is slightly misleading, though. You are trying to imply that the artist who originally installed the bull represents the little guy, the independent artist. He just happens to be an independent artist who had $350,000 of his own money to spare in the early 80s? I’m a little suspicious of that. Both pieces of art promote capitalism and are created by powerful players in capitalism, one is a corporation another is an independently wealthy individual. Is one more pure? Can one really be separated from the other? Not really.
    Also, you imply that the little girl completely transforms the meaning of the bull. She is not completely transforming the meaning. She is making some of its meaning, meaning that as people immersed in a male dominated world we don’t even recognize. A bull is not just a strong animal who represents the strength of the American people. A bull is a symbol of masculinity. Should the strength of the American people be represented by a bull? I don’t blame the artist for being upset at the way his art is being interpreted, but this is what happens when you put art out into the world. People read it and respond. You do not get to control that part.

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    • The difference is that Di Modica wasn’t trying to sell us something. Fearless Girl is an advertisement, pure and simple, it’s no different than the ads being shown on TV, it’s just doing a better job at pretending to be something else. People should be furious at the way this Wallstreet firm is pandering to them, not applauding them. Fearless Girl isn’t a statement about gender equality or a pro-feminism statement, it’s a slick gorilla marketing campaign by a corporate behemoth who’s identified a market segment they want to capture.

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      • But he is trying to sell us something. He’s trying to sell us the idea that the people of the United States are represented by the interests of capitalism in general and financial capital in particular. That’s a pretty contentious idea whether you agree with it or not.
        Personally I find both works trite and didactic with little to recommend them from an aesthetic point of view. Even Banksy’s over-rated shtick is more thought provoking these two paeans to naked greed.

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      • But how effective of a marketing campaign is it, and has the general response to it been related to that marketing campaign? In all of the stories when it showed up how often was the SHE fund mentioned? When people go to look at it how many of them are walking away thinking of the SHE fund? Is its cultural place defined by the original intent of its funding or by what the everyday person on the street comes away from it with?

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    • I would argue that your commentary , musing about if the bull , a male animal, should represent the strength of the People; indeed the Statue of Liberty is a Female piece; a piece associated distinctly representing the US as a female strong presences of Truth, Liberty, Justice…all Strong ideals we associate our country with. I see two pieces of art, representing a male and female presence and no one is taking exception to Lady Liberty, well then, I find the bulls maleness to be a moot point.

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  186. I’ve read through the comments, and so far there is one massive point that no one has brought up.
    He planted his bull statue illegally, on city-owned (taxpayer-owned) property. The girl was planted legally, with the required permits up front. Now he’s throwing a hissy-cow (credit to Steven Brust for the term) over another statue placed (legally and with a 1-year temporary permit!) nearby.
    Let’s suppose I come to your front yard and plant a massive piece of my art right in the path to your front door. I don’t ask for your permission first, but the neighbors seem to like it, so you grudgingly allow it to stay… Then I turn up and start telling you that you can’t have any other yard decorations unless I like them, and that I now have a say in what color you paint your house, because wrong colors might distract from my art.
    How do you feel about my art piece now? Now that I’m issuing demands do you regarding your personal property?
    If he wants that sort of control, to the extent of demanding other, legally permitted art can’t be near his illegally planted art, he can take his stupid bull and put it on his own property, or in a museum willing to put up with his bullshit.
    That’s my take on it all, as a taxpayer.

    Liked by 6 people

  187. Reblogged this on Victor T. Cypert's Spectacular, Tentacular Spec-Fic Roundup and commented:
    Brilliant.
    The symbolism of cowing the bull–the symbol of prosperity–seemed inauthentic to me. There were better choices for communicating the strength of women than this hot mess.
    Why not a cowgirl statue, maybe riding alongside the bull and getting it to go where she wants it to go?
    It’s pretty clear that it’s an ad campaign. The symbolism was all wrong. That’s marketing for you, folks.

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    • I enjoyed reading this informative article and the comments below. My first reaction to the fearless girl statue was not positive. I still don’t like it and agree that it should be removed because it totally alters the original message of the bull. Fearless girl isn’t helping the cause of feminism​ at all. In fact, I think it hurts it because it makes females look stupid. On the surface, anyone would be crazy to stand in front of a charging bull (bullfighters aside, though I suspect they are a little crazy).Metaphorically to me, the bull represents a bull market surging forward. Given it’s location on Wall Street, I would think that’s the most common interpretation of the statue. In general, a bull market is good. It represents growth. Why would anyone be opposed to that? Now, the message is either “I’m a girl and I don’t like economic growth” or “stand up to male dominated big money.” I understand that many Americans feel that the stock market is out of reach and that it is the exclusive territory of 1 percenters, but that simply isn’t the case. I’m not wealthy at all, but I recently invested in stock for the first time. The most expensive stock I own is 13 dollars a share. I hope Fearless Girl doesn’t scare off the bull because I’d really like to see my 13 dollar investment pay off someday.

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      • I do not agree at all with Matt – I love the juxtaposition of the two statues. I think it is a stroke of brilliance. Nor do i even see the girl as white – to me she looks universal – any colour. And I think it absolutely sends a feminist message. Women around the world do not benefit from globalisation and corporate power – it is one of the biggest concerns about development, both economic and social. Growth is not always good. As I have said on this thread before – they together are are intriguing, make many different narratives and clearly excite interesting and articulate debate. What more can we ask of art?

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    • Or move the bull. Have the girl face nothing. Put the bull to the side of the girl so it looks like she’s bravely facing forward, ignorant of the danger approaching her. Reappropriate the appropriation.

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  188. it should remain as is to continue the dialogue. It’s very thought provoking. I’ve enjoyed reading the different opinions. It’s art, whether it’s guerilla or commissioned, both is doing its job.

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  189. Di Modica used $350,000 of his own money, in 1987, after the market crashed, and we’re supposed to buy it as a work of guerilla art? Sounds to me like both works are manifestations of the will of the 1%, one just promotes a profoundly 80s sensibility, the other reflects corporate co-opting of social movements for marketing purposes.

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    • It’s hard to find much about De Modica that doesn’t seem to originate from his own PR, but:

      He apparently had a career as a sculptor before the bull statue. He bought property in SoHo 1979 to build his studio. This was right at the tail-end of SoHo’s rebirth. At the beginning of the decade SoHo was dead and dark, drained by a years-long exodus of industry and residents to the suburbs. Artists lived and worked in low-rent (or no-rent, as squatters) lofts. De Modica was among them, having settled there in 1973. By the end of the decade SoHo had been remade, with art galleries, restaurants, and other businesses. Shortly thereafter, fueled in part by speculation and excess, but also by fundamentals, real estate prices started a steady rise.

      His purchase of the land for the studio was likely financed with a mortgage, and the bull may well have been financed by a loan against a decade’s appreciation of the property.

      In short, while De Modica clearly had some resources at his disposal. But like other artists in SoHo at the time, it seems his story could easily be that of an artist who managed enough success to qualify for a mortgage, to get a toe-hold in the middle-class, and the good fortune to see his investment in his own livelyhood appreciate at a rapid rate.

      I’m sure he worked hard and took risks, but he also had the good fortune to see outsized rewards for his efforts. Whether or not he sees it that way, he’s still an artist who created a piece of art and plopped it down in public, without permission.

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  190. I think we should make a particular point of making sure SHE fails apically. If the Girl had been put there for genuine, uplifting reasons than the story would be different. But she is nothing more than a (very) clever marketing ploy. Two things need to happen. We need to make sure everyone knows the TRUE reason for the Girl, so a false legend is not created. Second, we need to teach people what the REAL meaning of the Bull is, and why it was created. I always saw it as a symbol of the corruptions and greed of Wall Street until I was educated to its real meaning. Many will go on believing the the Girl is a symbol of gender equality, when in fact it was created by a corporation run almost entirely by men, that pay their female employees less than their male counterparts. Look up the profiles of some of the leaders of the corporation and it is blatantly clear some of the are openly misogynistic. Using art to sell things is timeless. Using art to lie to the public about the true intention of the symbol is both underhanded and reeking of disrespect. Not just to the Bull’s artist, but to the women out there that are being duped. I can just see the aforementioned men sitting back, sipping their $600 bottle of whiskey and laughing about the whole thing.

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    • The REAL meaning of art is not the creator’s intention but what the audience takes from it.
      Which is not to say that you are wrong to call for wider acknowledgement of the original intentions, just that the meaning of art can change, and cannot be controlled.

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  191. Not a fan of capitalism, yet the artist was commissioned. That’s capitalism at its finest. If the commissioner wanted to display it in his/her bathroom, it is his/her prerogative. It’s is whining from your part and not art appreciation (unless the ‘owners’ do only what you want them to do). Hypocrisy much?

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  192. If they leave the Fearless Girl statue and take back the plaque after a while so it’s no longer advertising, would it really be so bad that the Charging Bull’s meaning has changed over time as people need to address different issues now than they did then?

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  193. There is a very simple and easy solution to all this. Make them face the same way. The Charging Bull and the Fearless Girl standing together. This solution will send a message that is worthy of Modica’s original message and at the same time add an entirely new meaning to the commisioned art that is the Fearless Girl.

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  194. This has all the signs of I am losing so I will take my ball & go home Di Modico did something wrong NYC let it stand Now someone else did the same thing as he did and to him it is taking away his limelight.
    It doesn’t matter what the Fearless Girl means let her stay It will be another tourist site

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  195. Once released to the public, the intentions of the creators of a piece of art become secondary to the meaning the viewers see in it. The message can be easily altered by time and circumstance, lauded or condemned concurrently or consecutively. The message of the bull for many today (the 99%?) is one of being trampled in the aggressive pursuit of profit by large corporations. It wasn’t always so, but Occupy Wallstreet shone a spotlight on the harm caused by the business and financial industry playing money games with people and the environment.
    So regardless of the intentions behind Fearless Girl, the people are claiming her as their own, a symbol of the power of the “little” people the stand up to the corporate giants. Both artists can now rightly complain that the meaning of their artwork has been altered but as that follows the interpretive nature of art, nobody has to give a damn about either their original intentions or their objections.

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    • That simply is not the case. First, while the artist cedes some control, to claim that their intentions are secondary has no foundation, especially when the object is still owned by them, and can be moved, changed or removed by them at will.
      Second, while the public at large may have no knowledge of the actual intentions behind “Fearless Girl” the people to whom the marketing message is intended most certainly do.
      Which is why the claim that “both artists can now rightly complain that the meaning of their artwork has been altered” misunderstands the reality. “Fearless Girl” is working EXACTLY as intended as it is perceived by the original intended audience. The perception of the public just lends it added notoriety.

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  196. Loved your explanation. I read it to my husband and he suggested Di Modica should just turn the bull around, and put some bronze droppings behind it! Sorry…much ado about nothing… someone should just add the history on a sign beside the girl. Maybe that would help…or move the girl!! I’m with Di Modica!

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  197. Agree with DiModica, the Feraless girl statue only exists when it’s put next to his art. What I disagree with him on is the meaning behind the Charging Bull. I get the history, what it means to him and what it meant when it got installed. However, I would argue that the meaning itself has shifted over the years and people asosiciate the bull from “the America people” to “rich, crazy, Wall Street”. After all, if we had to ask the country to take a survey before the fearless girl statue was installed, I think more people than not would have a negative association with the bull. All that said, I think his argument that the girl requires his statue is accurate but not the argument that it distorts the bull’s meaning.

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  198. An interesting commentary, thank you for sharing the “his-story”. Equally interesting that the artist wanted the CHARGING BULL to be a symbol of the strength and the power of the American “people”…although traditionally the bull is a sign of male fertility and oft destructive, strength. Perhaps this commissioned work, albeit a clever marketing strategy, actually illuminates that the strength and power of the American people might just lie, in part, in also recognizing the contributions of women. In particular, that the commissioned piece deliberately chose a young girl is mockingly clever. The discomfort that arises is perhaps, again, only in part, a necessary growth experience when one uncovers an expressed unconscious bias. And yes, there are several more layers of privilege to uncover here…”a Peter Pan” stance, really, now? Does one have to evoke “maleness” (Peter Pan is often a less than flattering description and often implies weakness) even in the description of the child’s integral determination. And yet, what I find hopeful about all of this is that we are awakening to the biases, conscious and unconscious, that have in the past, and are currently keeping us shrouded in veils of separation and dominance. The hopefulness of this is inspiring. We need strength of character, warmth, integrity, a harnessing of power, inclusiveness, compassion and true presence to begin to listen deeply to each other and to see things clearly in order to co-create a future that supports humanity. Thank you for having the courage to express your view and to catalyze this conversation.

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  199. There is a hidden capitalist discourse in this discussion, and it’s about private property when faced with the public nature of art. The central value of the bull statue is to be placed at a public space. Unfortunately, as you can’t have your cake and eat it to, the sculptor can’t place the statue at a public space -where it acquires it’s current artistic value- but keep control over what people see in it, nor can he demand that public space will not be intervened and distort his original intention. That is part of the public domain, he doesn’t own it. If he intended people to see in the statue only what he wanted, perhaps he should have kept it away from the public, only to be seen under his careful guidance. But when he decided to place that statue where it is, he lost ownership, he lost control (which is what private property is about, control). He might still legally own the physical structure and -in a very typical childish reaction to reality- he could remove it in an attempt to prevent things from happening when they don’t go like he wanted them to. But that will not change the fact that the symbolism of the statue to the public is not and never was his; it is a public construct that he can’t own. And the same logic applies to Fearless Girl. I also resent that it originated as another appropriation from the publicity industry of relevant societal values. But the industry doesn’t control what people see in Fearless Girl, and I think very few people see in that statue a message for investing on a certain fund, or even the relevance of having women in finance. What most people saw -and see- in that statue, which was installed on the eve of International Women’s Day, is that women are powerful, and they could confront even the most arrogant and conceited of forces; that of the markets. And even the hidden symbolism and irony of that message deriving from a marketing campaign is so interesting, so revealing of our current times, I’m not so sure I resent it.
    PS: For the grammar Nazis, I’m not an English native, so I apologize for any typos.

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