The Horse and Modern Art from George Stubbs to Mark Wallinger
Wednesday 3rd April 2019
Dr Nicholas Watkins
The horse is so rooted within the psyche of the Western imagination that it has maintained its expressive power through the centuries.
Stubbs, the greatest horse painter of all time, depicted the English Thoroughbred as a lean, mean racing machine. Degas learnt from sequential photography how to represent the mechanical movements of a galloping horse. For Munnings the horse represented tradition, a defining image of Englishness, while for the Fascists and Nazis the horse was a symbol of authority.
In Guernica (1937) the most moving protest painting of the twentieth century, Picasso employed an agonised horse in its death throes to evoke the destruction of the civilian population by the German Condor Legion flying for Franco in the Spanish Civil War.
The lecture concludes with the very diverse ways contemporary artists have made use of the equestrian image including Mark Wallinger’s planned but as yet unrealised gigantic 50 metre horse in Kent.
Nicholas is Emeritus Reader in the Department of the History of Art and Film, University of Leicester, curator, critic, author and lecturer. He is a regular contributor to The Burlington Magazine and other leading art journals. He lectures extensively to universities, museums, art galleries and art societies.