Wednesday, February 08, 2012

A Herd Of Wild Horses in the City

This weekend we were stir crazy from being at home so much due to all the ice so we took off for Ottawa, Ontario, Canada to our favorite museum The National Gallery.  As we drove in to park our car in the underground lot, we were stopped and had to wait while a vehicle that was too high got unstuck from the underground entrance.  I got out of the car to wait or go in and suddenly saw a herd of wild horses.  I was immediately enchanted and got out my phone to take pictures.

I love the way they fly by reflecting the light broken by the traffic on  Sussex Drive.  They seem three dimensional.  But mostly they are just such beautiful wild horses.
We left the museum after a wonderful afternoon of art without knowing who created these gorgeous sculptures but I was pretty sure a quick search on Google would let me know.  So this morning I did just that and I have included information below about the artist Joe Fafard.  I hope you enjoy finding out more about him as I did.

A herd of prairie horses – created in steel by Saskatchewan artist Joe Fafard – is now running past the National Gallery of Canada (NGC). The newly installed work, Running Horses (2007), was purchased by the NGC in 2008 with the support of the Gallery Foundation.
With manes and tails streaming out behind them, the herd of horses in shades from rusty red to yellow to black appear to gallop along Sussex Drive towards downtown. An elegant mare leads the herd, followed by other mares and colts, while a muscular black stallion brings up the rear. Made from laser-cut steel, each horse is a less-than life size silhouette-like form with various cut out patterns in its body. These negative spaces enable the viewer to see through each horse, creating a layered effect. Viewed head on, each horse is a narrow sculptural form made from ¼”-thick steel and supported by a solid bronze cast base that has been sculpted and painted to look like wind-blown prairie grass.
Among the eleven horses, no two are identical: there are six different variations of cut out patterns and each horse is painted in a unique manner. While the laser-cut patterns are suggestive of dappled or certain types of pinto markings, they come from the artist’s imagination.

“I love the idea of Fafard’s wild horses running along with the traffic on Sussex Drive,” noted NGC director Marc Mayer. “We haven’t had a sculpture in front of the Gallery’s main drive way in many years. This work is a wonderful evocation of Western Canada by one of our most beloved artists.”

There are five other works by Fafard in the NGC collection: Bull (1970), E II R (1978), and Cézanne (1981) are three early works in ceramic; Silvers (1999) and Western Dancer (2003) are two later works in bronze.
About artist Joe Fafard
Joe Fafard, a twelfth generation Canadian, is a sculptor best known for creating objects which reference community and farm life. His career has boldly blazed a path for the reinvigoration of sculpture in the contemporary Canadian art scene. Born into a farming family in the French-speaking community of Sainte-Marthe, Saskatchewan, Fafard showed a keen interest in art from a young age. He completed a bachelor’s degree in fine art at the University of Manitoba in Winnipeg in 1966, and a master’s degree at Pennsylvania State University in 1968.
He returned to Canada to teach sculpture and pottery at the University of Saskatchewan in Regina. In 1974 he left teaching, and settled in Pense (SK) to sculpt full time. Fafard’s career took a major shift in the early 1980s when he won a commission from the Toronto Dominion Bank to create a new public art installation. The commission propelled Fafard into a new phase of creation with a new medium: bronze. In 1985 Fafard opened his own foundry, Julienne Atelier Inc., in Pense.
Fafard was awarded the Order of Canada in 1981, the Royal Architectural Institute of Canada Allied Arts Award in 1987, an honorary doctorate from the University of Regina in 1988, and the Saskatchewan Order of Merit in 2002.


  1. Lovely, I'm so glad you shared the photos of the horses. I live in Atlanta so I probably would not have seen them without your lovely photos. Thanks!

  2. Oh, Mary, how lovely!!!! I'll have to convince Gary to take a Sat. off and make the trip up! Haven't been over to Canada in years and years! xo

  3. They are beautiful! What an amazing work of art!! Thanks so much for sharing!

  4. wow - those are wonderful - I've been to ottawa a few times in the last three years but obviously missed these wonderful horses.
    Thank you for bringing them to our attention. I definitely need a road trip and visit the National Gallery - only 4 hours away

  5. I'd like to visit the place. Thumbs up to Mr. Joe Fafard, you had a great idea. Good Job!

  6. What a scene! When you mentioned the wild horses earlier, this isn't what I had envisioned! :-) But I should have known better since you were in the city!! Thanks for sharing the work of Joe Fafard- the horses really look surreal.


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