Erasmus - Whitechapel Gallery, Whitechapel High Street, London, UK
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
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."
Tiger Growl blog.
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