There's a story out now that Arturo Di Modica, the sculptor who created "Charging Bull", wants the recently placed statue "Fearless Girl" removed because it violates his copyright. You can read the New York Times article here. I have a few opinions about the showdown near Wall Street of Charging Bull and Fearless Girl. None of them are probably going to make Arturo Di Modica feel any better.
It does raise an interesting debate. Di Modica feels the statue’s placement is an insult to his work. His lawyers are arguing that his work “has been transformed into a negative force and a threat.” His original intention has been lost. The Bull really stands for freedom, love, peace, yada, yada, yada. This is where he loses me. And this might be where I lose a lot of people. Look, I get it. As an artist, you pour your soul into the creation of something. It has meaning to you. During the creative process you may form very specific opinions about what it is you are making. In Mr. Di Modica’s case, he created this wonderful creature with specific feelings and ideals in mind, and now he feels all of that is being distorted and lost.
Here’s the deal. Our job as an artist is done once the work is put out in the world. It’s done. Now it’s up to the consumer to interpret it however they want. Is everyone who looks at the Bull going to feel and experience exactly what Mr. Di Modica wished and hoped and intended. No!
I like the Bull. I think it’s a marvelous statue that almost looks as if it really is charging. It does look powerful. It does bring up feelings of freedom in me a little. I feel a lot of things all swirled together. It really is something. Do you feel that way? Probably not. Maybe some of that. But not exactly. But what about this ‘Fearless Girl’? You might argue the addition of her to the picture changes and intrudes upon the Bull in a way that is unfair to the artist. Changes the interpretation SO much that it is disrespectful to the original piece and its creator. To that I say… Stop being so precious with your art. Art is messy. Art changes. Different stories can be told. Someone has added to the conversation. That is okay. Mr. Di Modica, you can now take pride in the fact that thousands of people are now seeing and appreciating your work in a whole new light. Does this ‘Fearless Girl’ now make your Bull the villain? I don’t know. I think maybe the little girl may feel like she’s looking in the mirror. Maybe she’s posing for the bull and saying, “Me too.” I think the most important thing about all of this is people are having a conversation about art. Embrace it. Applaud it. Let the girl have the spotlight for a little bit. (From what I understand the “Fearless Girl” only has a temporary permit. Sweet irony.) Trust me, the only way “Charging Bull” will be “…transformed into a negative force and a threat…” is if you make the city take down a statue of a little girl.
Let your work speak to some new faces. Let it tell a new story. Let it inspire. Trust it. Let it go. It’s not yours to interpret anymore. Stop being so precious with your art.