Jean-Marie Appriou: The Horses
curated by Public Art Fund Curator Daniel S. Palmer
Excerpt from press release
Inspired by the site and its numerous equine references – including the traditional gilded bronze equestrian monument to William Tecumseh Sherman by Augustus Saint-Gaudens, and the horses who pull tourists through the park in carriages – the exhibition features three new whimsical large-scale sculptures of horses cast in aluminum. Appriou is known for his intuitive approach to sculpture and experimental use of materials, enabling unexpected details to emerge.
The Horses exemplifies Appriou’s remarkably expressive style and will invite the public into an imaginative world where figuration and mythology meet.
"Jean-Marie Appriou's unconventional approach to sculpture is almost alchemical," says Public Art Fund Curator Daniel S. Palmer. "His craftsmanship is informed by a deep knowledge of the historical lineage of sculptors that have preceded him. At the same time, Appriou’s equine sculptures are otherworldly, evoking the silent majesty of horses with nuanced sculptural details that flicker between narrative and poetry.”
Appriou, who grew up in rural Western France, is drawn to equestrian references from Western culture and art, as well as humanity’s long relationship with horses stretching back to the first domestication of the animal. The three larger-than-life sculptures range in size, from nearly 15 feet tall to 16 feet in length, and all possess a sense of dynamism. Les Amants au Bois portrays a rendez-vous of two intertwined horses with their legs forming an almost forest-like environment below for audiences to wander through; Le Joueur depicts a horse draped in an embellished cape and reclined in a sphynx-like posture, a reference to the mythical creature that has inspired generations of artists; and Le Guerrier emphasizes the horse’s muscular and elegant form by elongating its body into a curved gateway, inviting park-goers to pass through and examine the delicate details of its veins and harness. The three sculptures also serve as a departure from the classical monuments of historic figures on horseback, elevated high on pedestals. The Horses invite audiences to experience and explore these poetic works from a variety of vantage points, highlighting their multifaceted stories and unique textured details.
With his transformations of material and unusual manipulation of form, Appriou’s sculptures reveal the potential of traditional material for figuration, texture, and evocative, non-narrative storytelling. Appriou often leaves traces of his casting process visible, embracing his tangible relationship to the medium itself. He creates compelling ensembles of human, animal and plant forms with an expansive array of cultural and art historical references, drawing influence from the 19th century Symbolist movement in Europe, among others. Over the last few years, the artist has been exploring the possibilities of cast aluminum. Appriou’s experiments began with melting cans in homemade kilns in his backyard, and more recently, he has created large-scale cast pieces that are increasingly complex. With The Horses, Appriou continues his exploration of the natural world translated into impressive aluminum sculptures. The three works will be grouped together at the entrance of Central Park, creating a mysterious, dream-like atmosphere that will offer viewers the opportunity to discover these majestic sculptures.
Courtesy of the artist and CLEARING, New York/Brussels; Galerie Eva Presenhuber, Zürich/New York
Ph. Nicholas Knight, Courtesy of Public Art Fund, NY