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)
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.
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.
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
— 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. —
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 ;)
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.
“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?” -
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.
The art association ROTOR in Graz shares with us to share with you the exhibition “Between the found and the constructed”. The show is the third part of the series titled “Beings and Creatures” which consists of four chapters.