16 artists that create artworks depicting horses | Contemporary art (2022)

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11 Jan 2022
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We share with you an exquisite selection of 16 contemporary artists, who have used horses in their work. From our featured artists to new discoveries on Instagram, we share a wonderful medley of artists take on the horse.

16 artists that create artworks depicting horses | Contemporary art (2022)

The Munchies Art Club Magazine is presenting artists that depict animals in their work. In this case horses in contemporary art.

We are always on the lookout for the artists of today; experimental, humorous, finding inspiration in their past, their present, creating from different ideas and material.

This special is a modern day take on horses in contemporary art.

I have always had a soft spot for these magnificent animals and lately my attention fell on how often contemporary artists use the horse in their work.

I am thrilled to share with you remarkable horse artworks from 16 diffeent artists that I discovered on Instagram; from paintings to sculptures, the horse, the centerstage.

16 contemporary artists share exceptional artworks of horses:

Lou Benesch, Sarah Bogner, Amy Butowicz, NH Depass, Saeed Ensafi, Gabrielle Graessle, Domi Gratz, David Horgan, Egor Ivanov, Jonas Mayer, Laurentius Sauer, Soeurs Siamoises, Jordan Sullivan, David Surman, and Yirui Yiu.

Horse paintings in Contemporary art now and 2022 | A brief historic overview

Mans fascination for horses in art dates back to ancient cave paintings all the way through to the modern horse in contemporary art.

Chauvet´s cave horses

Image courtesy @ Wikimedia Commons; Cave art: Etologic horse study, Chauvet´s cave by Thomas T (Flickr; Creative Commons)

In Chauvet, France, the cave painting of four horses’ heads found date back to 30,000 BC. From paintings to life size sculptures, the horse in history was primarily a religious symbol, and considered a sacred animal in ancient times.

Today we associate the horse with power, wealth, strength, speed, beauty, and also sensitivity and vulnerability.

Famous artists like Albrecht Durer, Eugène Delacroix, Horse Frightened by Lightning. Degas on racing horses. The Blaue Reiter Group with Franz Marc and his blue horses to Picassos Boy, leading horse paintings. Salvador Dali and his horses in a surreal environment.

The Horse in Motion cabinet cards by Eadweard Muybridge and art icons like Maurice Catalans used horses in their work.

Muybridge race horse ~ big transp.gif

The Muybridge race horse sequence by the artist Eadweard Muybridge (1830-1904) produced with 12 cameras in 1878 made to settle the argument to prove that there is a moment in the horses gait where all four hooves are off the ground. Credit @Wikimedia commons

LOU BENESCH | THE ROAD

lou benesch, myhological creatures, painting, red,
Lou Benesch | The Road | Watercolor and ink on paper | 23/30.5 cm | 2021 | Image courtesy and credit © Lou Benesch

— I’ve been around and riding horses since I was very young and to give them a place in my artistic practice has never been a question, they have just always been there. Horsed are imbued with the aura of mythological creatures; they have always walked by the side of knights and dragons, they have carried gods like Odin, they have been graced with wings and many more magical attributed that you can definitely feel when you are around them. I think that their presence in my work it might be a way of thanking them for letting me be around them in the first place. I’ve always been amazed by the fact these giant creatures allow us to get so close to them and build an incredible relationship with its own language and power. —

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SARAH BOGNER | RUNNER

sarah bogner, pink smoking horses, austrian female artist
Sarah Bogner | Runner 2021 | Approx. 34x46cm | Image courtesy and credit ©Sarah Bogner

Sarah Bogner and her pink horses.

The Horse:

Love and disgrace.

Under the hooves: Rash,

on the heads: Hats

Hold my stirrup once,

provide for me the Look Of Love,

and keep the Empty Eye away

That's all I can do, Smilers.

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AMY BUTOWICZ | MUFF HOUSE

amy butowicz, contemporary sculpture, women artists
Amy Butowicz | Muff House | 2020 | Canvas, wood, fur, cord and acrylic paint | 43.5"h x 24"w x 9"d | Image courtesy and credit ©Amy Butowicz

Muff House is inspired by my relationship to animals in general, not specifically horses. With this said, I do have a long history with horses. I have owned several and used to be a competitive rider. This history definitely enters into the work.

The piece is also inspired by Egyptian furniture. Egyptians' believed when using the animal leg in furniture, the symbolic powers of the animal would transfer to the sitter.

As an artist who uses anthropomorphism in their work, I am interested in the Egyptians' shift of humans taking on the characteristics of animals instead of assigning human characteristics to animals and objects. 

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NH DEPASS | NICHOLAS - A SELF PORTRAIT

nh depass, making self portrait through an object, sculptor
NH Depass | Nicholas - A Self Portrait | 2021 | 47 x 51 x 35 inches | Birch plywood, pine wood, foam, vintage fabric, laminate, acrylic sheet, metal hardware, chrome furniture legs, canvas, vintage mirror, vinyl decals, enamel paint, fiber-glass snake, vintage atomic bomb test poster, vintage tire radio, wooden alligator, vintage toy plane, vintage perpetual calendar, vintage army toy, vintage water-slide decal, The Winter of our Discontent by John Steinbeck, The Hardy Boys Series 14, Big Tymer’s How You Luv That CD, vitamin powder, vintage western figurine, brass pencil holder, vintage pencils from Pennsylvania, vintage Apsco pencil sharpener, Auto Zone flame decal, inkjet print on paper, ceramic incense holder, incense, steel star, vintage tin letters, flocking, metal bottle opener |  | Image courtesy and credit ©NH Depass

Featured artist NH Depass shares his unique piece Self portrait.

Why a horse?: In terms of symbolism, I see the Horse and the Snake as opposing forces, and employ both of them in my work.

In this particular work, Nicholas - A Self Portrait, I depict each of these animals. At the bottom of the sculpture near the feet, is a glass terrarium housing a molded snake, representing darkness, or the shadow.

The vintage poster of the horse sits above the desk, representing aspiration, freedom, and companionship.

However, it could be said much more simply –– I adore horses and am terrified of snakes. 

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SAEED ENSAFI | CLUMSY RIDER

saeed ensafi, visual artist, curator, exhibition maker, teacher, tehran
Saeed Ensafi | Clumsy Rider" | Dip pen, Ink on paper |18cmX14.5cm | 2013 | Image courtesy and credit ©Saeed Ensafi

Visual Artist, Curator, Exhibition Maker, Archivist, Educator- Based in Tehran

Co-Founder @illustrativetoday -Independent Art and Culture Organization

I paint horses through the influence of their existence in Iranian culture.

When I was a child, there was a carpet in our home which was based on famous Tabriz and Harris designs, including plant and animal forms adopted from romantic and mythical themes.

There are four horses in the middle, in the diagonal space and a little farther than the centre, among the complex forms of plants.

I have been imagining those exaggerated geometric forms  for years.

Horses had always come right after the hero and was his/her companion in texts and illustrations of my childhood picture books. Then I realised that horses did not abandon human over time; they are present in the history and culture of my land, in poems and legends and myths, and in books and miniatures and architectures.

They resemble invaluable concepts such as goodness, loyalty and nobility.

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GABRIELLE GRAESSLE | HO HO

swiss female contemporary painter, large scale paintings, alzueta gallery
Gabrielle Graessle | HO HO | 2021 | Acrylic, spray and glitter on canvas | 260 x 180cm | Image courtesy Gabrielle Graessle and gallery Yusto Giner, Marbella/Madrid

Gabrielle Graessle's work is breathtaking and we simply cant get enough of her kitsch and colourful paintings! We especially love her horse painting called HO HO!

--Remembering childhood, western and all this stuff…grid dreams for ever.--

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DOMI GRATZ| HORSE

domi gratz emerging young artist to collect, young art collectors
Domi Gratz | Horse | Oil pastels / acrylic on paper | 84cm x 59.5cm | Image courtesy and credit ©Domi Gratz

Domi Gratz is one of our youngest featured artists. Gratz shares her painting of a horse with us.

I have been fascinated by animals since I was a child, which is why I often use them as inspiration for my art alongside other motifs such as everyday situations and depictions of people.

Both domesticated pets and animals living in the wild can be found as motifs in my works.

In the painting "Horse" I consciously chose bright colours and expressive lines to achieve an unbridled effect.

The combination of the materials oil pastel with acrylic paint is intended to underline an awareness of freedom.

For me, “horse” not only stands for a specific living being but also for a feeling.

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DAVID HORGAN | MIDNIGHT RUNNERS

davi horgan, cowboys, paintings, american, artist to watch
David Horgan | Midnight Runners | Acrylic on Paper | A3 (420mm x 297mm) | 2020 | Image courtesy and credit ©David Horgan

I love horses, not only because of how their form beautifully fills the page but also because we as humans have always had a deep connection with horses.

They are majestical creatures that have literally carried us through the ages.

They have allowed us to traverse previously unobtainable distances with speed and grace, gone with us into war with us and shared unspeakable experiences expressed only through solemn and wise eyes. 

This whimsical piece, Midnight Runners, depicts a cowboy traveling on horseback at great speed barely holding onto his hat. Still wearing his long johns, he was clearly in a hurry! 

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EGOR LOVKI | PFERD 1

egor ivanov, sculptural rocking horse, childhood memories
Egor Lovki| “Pferd1” | Mosaic object | 52x91x37 | 2021 | Image courtesy and credit ©Egor Lovki

In this piece, a horse plays the role of a memory from my childhood.

Everyone saw it once and tried to ride this beautiful toy, imagining riding an actual horse and getting somewhere far away.

But memories from childhood are not always light and shiny, sometimes you also experience unpleasant things as a child.

That’s what my work is about.

That childhood and memories could also be something you don’t want to remember at all. 

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JONAS MAYER | ROCKING HORSE

jonas mayer, rocking horse, sculpture, modern, unique
Jonas Mayer | Small Rocking Horse | Found and painted materials | Image courtesy and credit ©Jonas Mayer

Since my current works deal with the theme of play and toys, the subject of the rocking horse is inevitable.

It is the symbol of childhood, therefore it has been an integral part of design and play culture for several centuries.

Symbolically, the horse is a sign of elegance, strength, unrestraint and freedom. Most exciting is the consideration of the ambivalence between the unrestraint and freedom of the symbolism, as well as the restricted freedom of movement and the simultaneous balance of the swing.

Only the child manages the actual escape from this ambivalence, by escaping into a playful, dreamlike parallel world, where all physical and psychological bonds are broken.

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DOUGLAS CANTOR RAMIREZ | HOT CITY WEATHER

douglas cantor romirez, colombian artist, southamerican symbolism
Douglas Cantor | HOT CITY WEATHER | Oil on Canvas | 203 x183 cm | 2021 | Image courtesy and credit ©Douglas Cantor Ramirez

The horse carries so much meaning within Latin American culture. A symbol that shifts meaning deepening on context, the stallion of the rich, the working horse of the poor.

The horse has taken the place of me in the works as a way to be present as the subject in a less direct way. 

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LAURENTIUS SAUER | DIAMONDS

laurentius sauer, austrian artist, paintings of horses
Laurentius Sauer | DIAMONDS | 70x100 | Oil Spray on mixed canvas | 2021 | Image courtesy and credit ©Laurentius Sauer

I began painting/drawing horses back in 2017, first as classic subject and then more and more as symbols of power and/or status symbols, like an expensive car is today. 

Most often Horses were used by male figures in history. Men who stood for slavery, ruthless exploitation but also those who did great things . 

Often these men were portrayed with a horse. In my paintings, these males are falling off the horse. The horse is free.

The men often die because of some ridiculous circumstances, not like heroic soldiers or great heroes. I don’t like horses so much; they are too big for me, too much muscle, not very flexible but as a symbol for freedom they are just fine for me. I like the romantic notion associated with horses ;)

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LES SOEURS SIAMOISES | L'ÉQUIPÉE DES ÉQUIDÉS OU LA PREMIÈRE SORTIE DU PETIT

soeurs siamoises, artistic duo, france, top french ontemporary art
Soeurs siamoises | L’équipée des équidés ou la première sortie du petit | Acrylic on paper | 30x42cm | December 2021 | Image courtesy and credit ©Soeurs siamoises

Featured artists Les Soeurs Siamoises share their horse painting with us.

We decided to do a series of paintings about horses, because it’s an obvious way to talk about a journey. A destination can easily obsess you: are you arriving in time? Do you have time to see everything or all the people you have to see?

When you travel, we mean when you are on the Road; you meet the real unknown. You are out of your usual path: meeting people you would never meet in your daily life.

It’s not only nice, it can be hurtful, sad, challenging. When you move your body, it moves you.

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JORDAN SULLIVAN | MOON MOTEL

jordan sullivan, stefan simchowitz gallery, simone krug, emerging
Jordan Sullivan | Moon Motel | 2021 | Acrylic on canvas | 72h x 58w in 182.88h x 147.32w cm | Image courtesy and credit ©Jordan Sullivan

“Sullivan’s paintings appear like moments out of a film, fragments where larger than life figures break their viewers’ sense of scale. This destabilizing element is deliberate, as Sullivan pulls the rug from underneath, removing the easy comfort of looking.

His American imagery is loaded, barren, and desperate. His figures—straggly travellers traipsing through casinos, forlorn punks staring into the distance, boxers in the final round at a match, tired patrons at a dive bar—beg the question what is America? Is this everything? At the same time, these works still dare to wonder what else can it be?” -

Excerpt from the Simchowitz Gallery Press release and written by Simone Krug.

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DAVID SURMAN | BRUMBY PARZIFAL (After Hokusai)

david surman, top artists to follow on instagram, paint, unique
David Surman | Brumby Parzifal (After Hokusai) | Acrylic on linen | 160 x 140cm | 2020 |  | Image courtesy and credit ©David Surman

'When we learn to read in english we learn 'H is for the Horse', the horse is part of language, it is part of our most fundamental structure.

It is more than just a domesticated animal, it is part of our collective consciousness.

The first people who rode on horseback shifted the balance of power between human groups, and so the horse also enabled domination and conquest.

And yet today after 8000 years the relationship is coming to an end, now we only play with horses in most parts of the world. I paint horses thinking about them as fellow travellers.

They are creatures of empathy and pathos but also a very aesthetically pleasing jumble of lines and shapes.' 

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YIRUI JIA | ONE DAY I WILL LEAVE YOU NO.1

emerging, female artist, china, new york, figurative
Yirui Jia | One Day I Will Leave You No.1 | Acrylic on canvas | 2021 | 9 x 12 inches *6 | Images credit @ We Space Gallery

Yirui Jia featured artist shares her horse painting with us.

Appearing in fierce, distorted and animated expressions, the series of ‘One Day I Will Leave You’ depicts a fragmentary tale of a heart broken moment.

The ninja green horse is a character transformed and reinvented from my memory of a popular cartoon, who falls in love with a cigarette man Mr. Nicotine.

However, the pencil character drags cigarette man into an orgy of indulgence of senses. This everyone has had their heart broken cliche also happened to the ninja horse.

The characters in my paintings often have complex identities and emotional tension by reinventing iconic symbols, by animalizing easy-identifiable daily objects, and by adding multiple limbs that interact and connect with the environment.

Sometimes the ninja horse character becomes a camel with humps, while other times he has snake tongue.

Through the witty transformation and ambiguity of everyday objects and  imagined characters, my work tries to amplify the absurd scenes of contemporary life and technological age, thus embedding the inherent contradictions between characters and their environment. 

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