Londoners and art world professionals gave the thumbs up for David Shrigley’s new public art commission standing on the Fourth Plinth, which was unveiled today in Trafalgar Square in the heart of London (29 September). The seven-metre-high piece, entitled Really Good, is an outlandishly long thumb cast in bronze with the same dark patina as the other classic statues in the square.
Shrigley, who was nominated for the Turner Prize in 2013, hopes that the gesture will become a self-fulfilling prophecy. Things considered “bad, such as the economy, the weather and society will benefit from a change of consensus towards positivity”, he says.
Gabriele Finaldi, the director of the National Gallery, welcomed the new addition. “It’s very impressive, I can see it from my office window,” he says. Earlier this year, he told The Art Newspaper that “the Fourth Plinth is a brilliant way to make art connect with contemporary people.”
Sandy Nairne, the former director of the National Portrait Gallery in London, says that he was expecting to see a piece made of gold. “I love the knuckles, the modeling and the joins.” Caro Howell, the director of the Foundling Museum, gave the pithiest assessment, saying that the statue was “both fallible and phallic”.
Iwona Blazwick, the director of London’s Whitechapel Gallery is keen on the black patina. “I love the fact that it’s black, it makes it especially dour,” says Blazwick, who sits on the Fourth Plinth commissioning group along with the broadcaster Jon Snow and the artist Jeremy Deller.
The culture team under the Mayor of London is responsible for the Fourth Plinth. Sadiq Khan, the Labour mayor, unveiled the sculpture in the wind and rain, declaring that “London is open” post-Brexit. Arts Council England supports the project.
Shrigley’s sculpture is expected to remain on view until March 2018. “There are no details about what will happen to it afterwards at the moment,” says a project spokeswoman.
Really Good is the 11th sculpture to stand on the Fourth Plinth. Previous artists commissioned include Yinka Shonibare—his Nelson’s Ship in a Bottle (2010) is housed at the National Maritime Museum in Greenwich—and Elmgreen & Dragset’s Powerless Structures, Fig 101 (2012) which has been acquired by the Arken Museum of Modern Art in Denmark.