The Story Behind the Leaping Horses on Nanjing Xi Lu

By Ned Kelly, February 28, 2022

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Galloping into the city in 2004, the leaping horses on Nanjing Xi Lu were the result of much humming and hawing by the Greening Bureau of Jing’an District, which had been looking for a sculpture that would blend aesthetically with both the Soviet-designed and classically-influenced Friendship Hall of the Shanghai Exhibition Center and the more modern appearance of the Shanghai Centre.

During the 2002 Shanghai Contemporary Art Fair, representatives of the department spotted some sculptures by Arman, aka Armand Pierre Fernandez, a French-born artist who was well known for reconstituting trash and found objects into his work. They were convinced his style could bridge the design of the two iconic Shanghai buildings.


Contacting Arman’s agent in Taiwan, they settled upon one of his equine statues, while real estate company Calxon Zhongkai Co. Ltd offered to foot the bill for ‘Horse,’ coughing up the RMB4 million price tag for the 6-meter-tall, 3.5-ton bronze statue.

According to Cao Gang of the Landscape Design Institute of East China Normal University, “Horses are auspicious and brave, symbolizing the spirit of moving forward, which totally matches with Chinese ideals.”

READ MORE: Shanghai Exhibition Center: The Palace of Sino-Soviet Friendship

For more on Shanghai's statues and sculptures, click here.

For more history stories, click here.

[Image by Nicky Almasy]

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