This week, Arturo Di Modica, the artist behind Wall Street’s infamous Charging Bull sculpture, called for the removal of the recently installed Fearless Girl statue. In case you haven’t been following the story, here’s a quick recap: Fearless Girl, a bronze statue by Kristen Visbal, was installed facing Di Modica’s bull on March 8th, International Women’s Day, and was meant to be a symbol of women’s strength and resilience in society. After the sculpture was praised for its seemingly guerrilla gesture, we learned that it was actually installed on behalf of a financial firm and an advertising company, both of whom’s leadership teams are comprised of significantly more men than women. This led to some critics denouncing the statue, calling it “fake corporate feminism” and “everything that’s wrong with our society.” Then, a few weeks ago, New York City’s Department of Transportation announced that Fearless Girl would remain on view through February 2018, while it was originally set to be removed on April 2.
Di Modica, in a press conference on Wednesday, claimed that Fearless Girl warped the meaning of his sculpture, which is “a better America and a better world.” His lawyers accused State Street Global Advisors, the financial firm that commissioned Fearless Girl, of creating and installing the work in a gesture that “improperly commercialized” Charging Bull. Therefore, they claim, it violates Di Modica’s copyright of his sculpture.
As an added wrinkle to the story, Di Modica’s bull was itself a guerrila artwork that he self-financed and placed without permission during the night 1 a.m. on Dec. 15, 1989 as a Christmas gift to the city. It was briefly removed until the artist struck a deal with the New York Stock Exchange to return it at his own expense. There it lives to this day, giving pleasure to millions of tourists who like to touch the bull’s bronze testicles for good luck.
While Di Modica and his lawyers are critical of Fearless Girl, they appear only to dislike the placement of the statue and have called for it to be moved to a different location where it would not impact the meaning of the artist’s bull. While there is hope that this issue can be resolved peacefully, Norman Siegel, a lawyer for Di Modica, was sure to add, “We never dismiss the possibility of litigation.”