Sculpture Showdown

Does one statue change the meaning of another?

A small statue called Fearless Girl is causing a big commotion in New York City. Artist Kristen Visbal recently placed her bronze statue of a determined young girl in front of the famous Charging Bull sculpture near Wall Street. It appears as if the girl is challenging the fierce-looking sculpture. Charging Bull’s creator Arturo Di Modica, says this changes the original meaning of his artwork. The artist created the sculpture to represent a “bull market” or a strong stock market. Now Di Modica is accusing the city of violating his legal rights as an artist.

Visbal installed Fearless Girl on March 7, 2017, the day before International Women’s Day. The girl with her hands on her hips and a defiant look on her face quickly became a hit with New Yorkers and tourists alike, as well as a sensation on social media. Many feel Fearless Girl symbolizes the empowerment of women. The statue was initially meant to remain for one week. But after thousands of people signed a petition, the mayor of New York City extended the statue’s permit for a year.

Di Modica argues that the city should have asked his permission before allowing Visbal to install Fearless Girl. Di Modica gifted Charging Bull to New York City in 1989, but he still owns the copyright (the exclusive right to how the work is used). The artist believes Fearless Girl exploits his work. He says the bull symbolizes strength and prosperity but that Fearless Girl makes the bull look like a villain. He has requested that Fearless Girl be removed.

What do you think: Do artists have the right to protect how their works are presented?

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