Arturo Di Modica, the artist who created Wall Street’s “Charging Bull” sculpture, has reportedly objected to the new “Fearless Girl” statue recently installed facing it as copyright infringement.
I expect this has been misreported. The issue is not copyright, but moral rights. According to the Berne Copyright Convention, artists retain certain rights over their art: their work cannot be altered by the owner without their permission in a way that might be “prejudicial to the author's honor or reputation.”
In a famous Canadian case, Toronto’s Eaton Centre wanted to put red bows on Michael Snow’s Canada Goose mobile for Christmas season. Not allowed.
It seems to me that “Fearless Girl” is a classic case, and the artist is right to object. Its presence changes the meaning of the original sculpture, and in a way that tends to mock and trivialize it. The original bull was meant to express optimism and growth in the stock market, at a time of recession. “Fearless Girl” is placed literally in direct opposition to it, supposedly blocking its advance. Is she opposed to growth?
According to those who sponsored her, she is supposed to be opposing the masculine nature of the stock market.
|Michael Snow's Flightstop|
This completely changes the meaning of the bull, into a symbol of masculinity. From being a thing to be welcomed, it is altered into a supposed bad thing. And, by the absurd suggestion that a small girl could stand up to a bull without being mauled to death, it trivializes and mocks the original sculpture, originally an image of unstoppable strength.
It is about as tasteful as painting a moustache on the Mona Lisa.
Granted, it is a surprisingly and no doubt inappropriately apt image of modern feminism: childish, invincible in its sense of privilege, unrealistic in its conception of the world, forced to invent enemies, opposed to progress, and with no appreciation for beauty.