Erasmus - Whitechapel Gallery, Whitechapel High Street, London, UK
Posted by: Groundspeak Premium Member Master Mariner
N 51° 30.958 W 000° 04.212
30U E 703274 N 5711274
Quick Description: This weathervane, high above the Whitechapel Art Gallery, shows Erasmus sitting on a horse, back-to-front, reading a book.
Location: London, United Kingdom
Date Posted: 1/29/2012 1:34:30 AM
Waymark Code: WMDM20
Published By: Groundspeak Premium Member Dorcadion Team
Views: 0

Long Description:

This weathervane is big, probably about two metres in length, and sits on top of the recently refurbished Whitechapel Art Gallery. The gallery, formerly a library, had stood for about 100 years without the weathervane before it was realised that, although initially planned, a weathervane had not been installed.

"The building for which we were heading is easily identified by the weathervane on its roof. This was made by Vancouver sculptor Rodney Graham for the reopening of the extended Whitechapel Gallery in 2009. Even though the weathervane has been visible for only two years, stories already abound as to its meaning and the identity of the backwards-facing rider. I also note references to a similar or identical weathervane in Vancouver and am unsure whether this one is a copy, a reworking or even that original weathervane.

A conservative interpretation of the work, relying on the artist’s own indications, is as follows. The figure on the horse is the Renaissance religious humanist scholar Erasmus, author of a well known book Moriae Encomium, translated variously as In Praise of Folly or The Praise of Folly. The sculpture refers to a myth or legend that Erasmus wrote the book during a journey on horseback. The backward-facing posture might be taken either as a graphic symbol of Folly (it is surely foolish to ride a horse backwards) or as an indication of Erasmus’ happy absorption in his work, uncaring of the mundane details of the journey. Either way, it is a striking piece of work and one that seems apt to become the Gallery’s icon.

Source Tiger Growl blog.

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