Friday, May 1, 2009

About Art - The American Horse

The American Horse (also known as Da Vinci’s Horse) is a magnificent 24-foot-tall replica of the Leonardo da Vinci Horse. The 3-story high statue (the world’s largest horse sculpture) is found in the 125-acre Frederik Meijer Gardens in Grand Rapids, MI. and is one of more than 100 works by world-renowned artists in Michigan’s largest tropical conservatory. There is also a second version in Milan in Italy.

The idea of the monumental bronze horse began in 1977 when Charles Dent, a pilot and art collector, read an article in National Geographic about a sculpture of Leonardo's that had been destroyed before it was cast. Dent and a team of assistants tried to recreate Leonardo's vision, which had been scuttled by French troops when the city of Milan was attacked four hundred years ago. Due to anatomical and proportional flaws in their design it failed.

Because of her reputation, sculptor Nina Akamu was hired, because of her extensive training in Renaissance art and traditional sculpture techniques, to correct these errors, a decision which ultimately led to a new design and the creation of The American Horse. She first made an eight-foot clay model which was then translated into the twenty-four foot scale. Both were cast in bronze, with more than fifty pieces required for the monumental version. Casting work began in 1997 at the Tallix Art Foundry in Beacon, NY. The director of the project, James Cox, envisioned that The Horse would be a gift from American friends to the citizens of Italy…a gesture of good will between nations.

Akamu and a team of assistants ultimately brought the proud beast to artistic fruition, and the final casting was installed in Milan, Italy in 1999. In fact, the unveiling celebration occurred on September 10, 1999…five hundred years (to the day) from the date that invading French armies destroyed Leonardo’s famous original clay and stucco model. The Grand Rapids version was unveiled the same year. The picture is of the model in Grand Rapids. Find out more about the artist at:

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