Equestrian Contemporary Art: Donkeys

© Maurizio Cattelan

The noun donkey generally refers to domestic species Equus asinus, and his figure is found in ancient worship of African and Mediterranean cultures. In classical mythology, Greek and Latin, the donkey represented the instinctive aspect of human beings. As a literary character and fable, from the Greeks and Romans became a symbol of stubbornness, stupidity and lust, traits that are found in the European tradition through the Middle Ages to the present day.

© Maurizio Cattelan

But the donkey is also a strong animal, intelligent, highly prized for its mild character, a great pet that is suitable for various environmental conditions. He gallop rarely, but can trot for hours, his verse is called braying, his distinctive voice is not pleasant. The braying is more common among younger, may indicate an expression of greeting and appeal to their contemporaries. He can live 40 years.

© Maurizio Cattelan

Maurizio Cattelan is probably on the top of donkeys’ sculpture. Sometimes representing the artist himself, sometimes reminding a traditional image from Christian iconography by carrying a television set on his back instead of Christ with palm fronds; the saviour has been replaced by the instrument of the mass media.

© Paola Pivi

But donkey is ultimately a sweet burden who find himself in absurd situations as in Paola Pivi’s photos, and who is governable enough to pose with the young new yorkers of Ryan McGinley’s crew.

© Ryan McGinley

Finally in Zhang Huan’s work the donkey is mounting and bending a building, Chinese icon of modernism, giving a literal shafting from the ‘proletariat‘.

© Zhang Huan

Galerie Perrotin

Saatchi Gallery

Selected by Ingrid Melano


2 thoughts on “Equestrian Contemporary Art: Donkeys

  1. Pingback: Kaputt Primavera – Francesco Bonami meets Maurizio Cattelan | THE ART MARKETS

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