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Scholars call bull on bull sculptor stomping ‘Fearless Girl’

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Artist Arturo Di Modica, the man who sculpted Wall Street’s iconic “Charging Bull”, has been outspoken in his disapproval of the new “Fearless Girl” statue and has asked the city to remove it.

Kate Harding

Kate Harding, the assistant director of the Cornell University Women’s Resource Center and author of Asking for It: The Alarming Rise of Rape Culture—and What We Can Do About It, says the bull statue belongs to a different era and a different New York.

Harding says:

“To see ‘Fearless Girl’ merely as an ‘advertising trick’ or a sop to easily manipulate women strikes me as a serious failure of imagination, to say the least. Irrespective of artist Kristen Visbal’s corporate funding, I’m not moved by Di Modica’s argument that his sculpture — which prominently features a pair of enormous testicles, polished to a bright sheen by tourist hands — is a more intrinsically serious piece of American art than its new companion.

“Images of ‘Fearless Girl’ did not go viral worldwide because millions of people wanted to promote an investment company, but because she represents a refreshing, inclusive, 21st-century vision of core American values like courage and righteous defiance. The bull’s hypermasculine, aggressive image of American prosperity belongs to a different era and a different New York. History marches on.”

Professor Shirley Samuels teaches Feminist, Gender, and Sexuality Studies at Cornell University. Her books include The Culture of Sentiment: Race, Gender, and Sentimentality in 19th Century America. Samuels says the “Fearless Girl” has instilled public art as social commentary.

Samuels says:

“The confrontation that ‘Fearless Girl,’ the newly installed statue of a young girl, arms akimbo, presents to the charging bull on Wall Street is a confrontation at once of youth and gender. This small act of defiance has been celebrated and has generated new attention to the possibility of public art as social commentary.

“Social commentary has been effusive – many new selfies have been taken. Facing down such a large charging animal could not possibly appear as an act of aggression – except to the sculptor of the bull. Shall his original act of transgression be trumped by the unflinching gaze of a girl? More power to her.”

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