Every Work Of Art On The Fourth Plinth (So Far)

Harry Rosehill
By Harry Rosehill Last edited 13 months ago
Every Work Of Art On The Fourth Plinth (So Far)
Really Good by David Shrigley. Photo: James Beard

In 1841 the Fourth Plinth was built in Trafalgar Square. Of course, it wouldn't have been known as the Fourth Plinth then.

The pedestal was originally intended to display a statue of William IV, but due to insufficient funds, no one got round to that. The plinth remained bare for over 150 years — no one really knew what to do with it/cared about it enough to do anything.

And then... a decision was made. The plinth would be occupied by a succession of temporary works. The Fourth Plinth Project began in 1999... but only lasted three years. The plinth was bare once more.

The project was revived as The Fourth Plinth Commission in 2005 — and has been going strong for well over a decade. Here are the works that have occupied it since then, from most recent to oldest.

Really Good, David Shrigley

Ever felt so good about something, that the thumbs-up emoji just isn't enough? David Shrigley feels you, so decided to create what is essentially a massive emoji statue (see above, can't miss it).

Gift Horse by Hans Haacke. Photo: Sarah

Gift Horse, Hans Haacke

This skeletal horse adorned the plinth from March 2015 till September 2016. It's apparently a "contemporary comment on history, power and money". Whatever it is, don't look it in the mouth.

Hahn/Cock by Katharina Fritsch. Photo: Darrell Godliman

Hahn/Cock, Katharina Fritsch

Yes the plinth hosted a massive blue cock — from July 2013 until February 2015. The cockerel symbolised "regeneration, awakening and strength." It was also a cheeky swipe at the male-dominated plinths that surrounded it.

Powerless Structures, Fig. 101 by Michael Elmgreen and Ingar Dragset. Photo: Guy Tyler

Powerless Structures, Fig. 101, Michael Elmgreen and Ingar Dragset

Like Hahn/Cock, this plinth topping references those around it. Trafalgar Square — and central London — is filled with statues of military heroes on horseback, so Michael Elmgreen and Ingar Dragset decided to contrast them by celebrating the heroism of growing up. The bronze boy on a bronze rocking horse stood there from February 2012 till April 2013.

Nelson's Ship In A Bottle by Yinka Shonibare. Photo: Stephanie Sadler

Nelson's Ship In A Bottle, Yinka Shonibare

Seeing as the Fourth Plinth is in Trafalgar Square, it wasn't going to be too long before something related to the Battle of Trafalgar came along. Step right up Yinka Shonibare, who presented a replica of Nelson's ship HMS Victory... in a bottle. It stood from May 2010 till January 2012. We have no idea how he got it in there.

Bright pink bride again, on the fourth plinth for One and Other, 8am, 23 August 2009. Photo: W P Wiles

One & Other, Antony Gormley

Probably the most famous period during the plinth's run came in the summer, and early autumn, of 2009. Over 100 consecutive days, members of the public could spend one hour each on the plinth, and do their thang. The project was called One & Other and was the brainchild of sculptor Antony Gormley, who wanted to elevate everyday life into the realm of monumental art.

The picture above is of Londonist contributor Hazel, who reenacted her wedding. More touching than all the people who stripped off up there.

Model For A Hotel 2007 by Tomas Schütte. Photo: tezzer57

Model For A Hotel 2007, Thomas Schütte

This was formerly titled Hotel for the Birds. Trafalgar Square is, afterall, a famed hangout for pigeons. The problem with pigeons, of course, is birdshit... meaning this installation had to be cleaned rather a lot. As you might have guessed from the title, it went up in 2007.

Alison Lapper Pregnant by Marc Quinn. Photo: Wally Gobetz

Alison Lapper Pregnant, Marc Quinn

Marc Quinn created this statue of artist Alison Lapper when she was pregnant. Lapper was born with no arms and shortened legs due to a condition called phocomelia.

The plinth's first resident was also the one with the lengthiest stay. This 13 tonne statue was up there from September 2005 until late 2007, getting some rather ugly reviews from some critics. We wonder whether it stayed on the plinth for so long because they were trying to work out where they were going to move it.

And, lest we forget the Fourth Plinth Project which saw Rachel Whiteread's Monument (2001), Bill Woodrow's Regardless of History (2000) and Mark Wallinger's Ecce Homo (1999).

Last Updated 20 January 2017

mensan98th

I enjoy these works of art. Given that, I never would've signed up for an hour (or even 5 minutes).

Francesca Fenn

Wasn't there an 'Ecce Homo' too?

Richard the Big Bunny

I miss the big blue cock! It just looked "right" there.