Bestiary of Bronze Animals by Bjørn Okholm Skaarup

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The human-animal bond has long become a unique natural phenomenon. By exploring its internal connections, we are opening a world of fanciful knowledge not known to us before. It is no surprise that all creatures — great and small — have become an indissoluble part of our culture, with animal behavior patterns transformed into the human individual characteristics and vice versa. Bjørn Okholm Skaarup, a recognized Danish sculptor, pursues the idea of animal symbolism and creates bronze allegorical animals to cast our minds back to the historical past, usually explored through animation and fable.

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Animals in the work of Bjørn Okholm Skaarup

Bjørn Okholm Skaarup started his career working as an artist at the Danish Museum in Copenhagen from 1994 to 2004. After earning a Ph.D. at the European University Institute in Florence in 2009, Okholm Skaarup continued investigating and learning the fading craft of large-scale bronze casting, which is now his major specialization. His sculptures and models of allegoric animals have been featured at many exhibitions all over the globe, including at the Koldinghus Museum (Kolding, Denmark), Hotel Cipriani (Venice, Italy), Four Seasons Hotel and the Museo Cenacolo di Ognissanti (Florence, Italy), among others. Besides, Okholm Skaarup’s works are installed for public view in New York and other cities worldwide. One of them, Hippo Ballerina, comes across as a truly rare example of contemporary sculpture with unconventional design.

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Hippo Ballerina was first mounted in NYC at 64th Street and Broadway in collaboration with the NYC Parks Art in 2017. Last year, this 4.5-meter bronze sculpture of an anthropomorphic animal returned to Manhattan, inviting everyone to take photos with it. Inspired by Walt Disney’s Fantasia and Degas’ Little Dancer, Hippo Ballerina perfectly combines a wonderful world of whimsy with the artist’s serious academic study, which makes this work a high-class paragon of contemporary art.

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