Charging Bull sculptor: Fearless Girl makes a symbol of strength into something negative

The sculptor who created Charging Bull, the famous bronze statue near Wall Street, wants the recently added statue of Fearless Girl removed. He says the statue ruins the meaning of his art. From the Associated Press:

Arturo Di Modica said his 11-foot-tall bull is supposed to represent “freedom in the world, peace, strength, power and love” but “Fearless Girl” has turned his work’s message into something negative…

An attorney for Di Modica, Norman Siegel, said the 4-foot-tall bronze girl was created as part of an advertising campaign for Boston-based investment firm State Street Global Advisors and its placement opposite the bull exploits the earlier sculpture for commercial gain and negates its positive message.

“The placement of the statue of the young girl in opposition to ‘Charging Bull’ has undermined the integrity and modified the ‘Charging Bull'” Siegel said. “The ‘Charging Bull’ no longer carries a positive, optimistic message. Rather it has been transformed into a negative force and a threat.”

It’s hard to argue with that because it’s undoubtedly correct. Fearless Girl has transformed the meaning of the bull in a way the artist never intended. Slate’s Christina Cauterucci put it this way:

Before Fearless Girl came on the scene, the bull was an encouraging representation of a booming economy. Now, charging toward a tiny human, it’s a stand-in for the gendered forces that work against women’s success in the workplace. This isn’t the same kind of contextual shift that might result from a curator’s juxtaposition of two works; the girl is derivative. Di Modica meant his bull to stand alone—now, it’s as if Visbal and New York City have made a solo piece a diptych without his consent.

Fearless Girl is not just another distinct piece of art placed nearby. If it were then Di Modica would just be arguing over turf. Instead, this is a revision of his work. Of course, the revision has plenty of supporters who like the feminist message. But Di Modica has every right to complain that his work shouldn’t be reimagined into something completely different by another artist’s addition.

Mayor Bill de Blasio has already extended the permit to allow Fearless Girl to remain on display until next year. Wednesday he tweeted a link to a Newsweek story about Di Modica’s complaints with a message suggesting any rejection of Fearless Girl was misogynist:

This sort of feminist posturing is obviously exactly what supporters of Fearless Girl like, but it’s not fair to the artist and doesn’t display much understanding of the point he is making.