The sculptor of the infamous ‘Charging Bull’ statue has accused the City of New York of violating his right as an artist by allowing the ‘Fearless Girl’ statue to be installed in front of his work without seeking prior authorization, AP reports.
The statue of the ponytailed girl starring defiantly at the bronze bull — a fixture of Wall Street and revered symbol of financial resilience —was placed on Bowling Green on the eve of International Day to spark a conversation about the dearth of female leadership in finance.
Commissioned by asset management firm State Street Global Advisors and sculpted by Kristen Visbal, the 50-inch statue was initially only meant to stay up for one week. But ‘Fearless Girl’ immediately became an internet sensation, attracting tourists from all over the world who wanted to see and pose next to this new symbol of female empowerment.
Not without a fair amount of criticism, supporters, including New York City public advocate Letitia James, launched a campaign for the statue to be made permanent. Then, following dozens of petitions with tens of thousands of signatures, mayor Bill de Blasio announced its permit would extended through April 2018.
Yet according to Arturo Di Modica, the Italian-born sculptor behind the iconic ‘Charging Bull,’ the very presence of the girl compromises the artistic integrity of his work by changing its creative dynamic.
The artist has come down hard against ‘Fearless Girl’ ever since it was placed in his raging beast’s path, previously dismissing it as nothing but a publicity stunt orchestrated by the firm’s advertising partner. The plaque underneath the sculpture reads: “Know the power of women in leadership. SHE makes a difference” —a direct reference to State Street’s SHE Index designed to promote gender diversity.
“That is not a symbol! That’s an advertising trick,” the 76-year-old told MarketWatch in March. “Women, girls, that’s great, but that’s not what that is.”
Speaking of his own work, he added “My bull is a symbol for America. My bull is a symbol of prosperity and for strength.”
The artist said he would hold a news conference on Wednesday with his attorney Norman Siegel to explain how he plans to challenge city officials who extended the bronze’s girl permit.
Siegel, former director of the New York Civil Liberties Union, said they did not intend to file a lawsuit. However he said they had requested to see documents showing what procedures were followed in the approval of ‘Fearless Girl.’
Just like Visbal, Di Modica had installed his massive bronze statue on the New York Stock Exchange in the middle of the night — albeit without a permit — to symbolize American financial optimism after the 1987 stock market crash.
Authorities initially removed the unauthorized work but later reinstalled it following public clamor for it to remain in the financial district.