What seems to have captured the masses is its sense of whimsy and beauty.
It’s grand. Regal. Commanding. But it is also blue. So very blue. It’s fanciful, beguiling and a just a little absurd.
London loved that Blue Chicken. For non-Londoners wondering if it’s some sort of urban dance move or a silly gastronomic fad, the Blue Chicken is a giant 15.5 foot luminous cobalt blue sculpture which, until recently, perched proudly on the Fourth Plinth in Trafalgar Square.
There are four plinths in Trafalgar Square and until 1999 the fourth one remained very ‘plain Jane’ indeed. It was baby-bottom bare. In 1998 the Royal Society of Arts came up with the idea of using it to host the winner of an arts prize. What a clever idea. In fact they thought it might be rather wonderful if it were a rolling programme of sculptures.
So the Blue Chicken was always going to end up on the chopping block. But of all the sculptures to take their place on the plinth, the chicken is the one that seems to have captured Londoners and tourists of all types; the arty, the sporty, the cynical.
There was searing controversy in the early days. Fierce and passionate. Concerns that it was ‘inappropriate’, or ‘suitable for France but not Britain’. And there was a sizeable body who genuinely felt a pigeon might have been a more culturally apt winged model, given their omnipresence in Trafalgar Square. But in the end, this is why that Blue Chicken is so memorable; its presence as a sculpture was unexpected and arresting. Tootle around the corner from the National Portrait Gallery or casually glance out the window of the 453 bus and a ginormous Blue Chicken would let you know you’d reached the heart of London.
Of course it’s actually a cockerel. Who knows if the Horse Skeleton will eventually be referred to as the Pony Skeleton, but as clever as it is, it’s unlikely to create the depth and intensity of reaction the Blue Chicken has attracted.
Why is that? Creator of the Blue Chicken, Katharina Fritsch described the work as symbolising “regeneration, awakening and strength”. That may be, and of course as the artist she would know, but what seems to have captured the masses is its sense of whimsy and beauty. It’s grand. Regal. Commanding. But it’s also blue. So very blue. It’s fanciful, beguiling and a just a little absurd.
I’ve heard people describe it as ‘Just so London’ and ‘So NOT London’ and these both being the reason it worked so well. Like all great art it has elicited varied and individual responses. Good luck to the new pony on the plinth, he has his own job to do. I hope Lord Nelson and the other chaps at the Square are nice to him, but he’s no Blue Chicken.
‘Assured Short Term Tenancies’ at The Fourth Plinth
More details including images on London Website here
Hahn / Cock / Blue Chicken
Elmgreen and Dragset
Nelson’s Ship in a Bottle
One & Other
Model for a Hotel 2007
Alison Lapper Pregnant