12 Live Horses Are Currently On Display In Manhattan Art Gallery

One of 12 horses tethered to a wall for six hours on a concrete floor as part of an indoor art installation in a Manhattan art gallery. Photo: Donny Moss.
One of 12 horses tethered to a wall for six hours on a concrete floor as part of an indoor art installation in a Manhattan art gallery. Photo: Donny Moss.

Updated 2:35 am / 29 June 2015

Alright Tuesday’s Horse’ers, instead of me popping off we invite you to weigh in. Tell us, from your experience — no matter what that is — how you view this scenario.

Is it a good thing or a bad thing for live horses to be part of an indoor art installation? And we mean not generally speaking, but in this particular instance?

No matter what the circumstances horses find themselves in thanks to humans, there always appears to be others that are better or worse.

I am going to keep my mouth shut, for better or worse. For the moment anyway. —Editor


Yesterday we were alerted to an art exhibit which is comprised of live horses tethered to a wall in a Manhattan gallery. Is it art or animal cruelty? Below, critics and activists weigh in on the 3-day installation—called Untitled (12 Horses)—currently on display at Gavin Brown’s Enterprise in Greenwich Village.

Donny Moss (of Their Turn) told us the horses appear to be tethered there for 6 hours a day. Upon visiting last night before the exhibit closed for the day, Moss says Gavin Brown approached him, suspecting he was an animal rights activist (which Moss says the gallery has seen a lot of in the day since the 3-day show opened).

He suspected that I was an activist, and he wanted to engage with me. We had a long talk. He sees nothing wrong with tying horses to a wall for 6 hours, and he said they are better off in his air conditioned gallery than out in the hot sun. He was comfortable debating with me when I argued that live animals are not objects of art to put on display and that future generations will look at the photos of his live animal exhibit and ask, “What were they thinking?”

He was, however, stumped when I pointed out the horses can’t lie down, turn around or scratch an itch because of how tightly they’re tethered. He only response was that horses sleep standing up. I explained that they can catch a cat nap standing up but that they get their REM sleep when lying down.

Moss’s point about not being able to lie down is perhaps the biggest one to make here—even the controversial stables of carriage horses in the city have stalls padded with hay for each horse. However, they are tended to.

Art critic Jerry Saltz praised the “iconic” exhibit, noting that “the horses are handsome, not the draught horses used in the original, which was staged in 1969 in an underground Italian garage with a hard tiled floor. Nor are they the broken animals we were used to seeing about Central Park. Poised, quiet, calm, they stand at three of the gallery’s four walls, eating hay from buckets attached to the wall, neighing occasionally, rustling, relieving themselves. They are attended to at all times by three loving grooms. The room has a reverence, not for a work of art but for life, and the ways it can embed itself in things we call art.” Continue reading »

Another of the 12 horses who are part of an indoor art installation currently on display at Gavin Brown's Enterprise in Greenwich Village. Photo: Donny Moss.
Another of the 12 horses who are part of an indoor art installation currently on display at Gavin Brown’s Enterprise in Greenwich Village. Photo: Donny Moss.

The New York Times reports that the exhibit is moving soon, stating:

“Harlem may be far from the madding crowd of galleries in downtown Manhattan and Brooklyn. But this summer Gavin Brown is closing shop on Greenwich Street in the West Village and moving his gallery to a former brewery at 461 West 126th Street.”

As advocates and horse lovers we know there are far worse things happening to horses daily everywhere. But is this a good or bad thing for these horses? Say your peace.

24 thoughts on “12 Live Horses Are Currently On Display In Manhattan Art Gallery”

  1. Oh my god, this is so idiotic and cruel!!! These people need to learn how to take care of animals!!

    Oh. Wait. They’ve got food, water, shelter, and care. They’re in an air-conditioned room. These horses have it better than 50% of the people in the world. Wanna see some real abuse?


    Right. So, uh… Tell me again how standing for six hours is ‘abuse?’


    1. Types of abuse are relative to the situation. To judge by the argument used here would imply it is alright to abuse someone because there are others worse off in the world abused at a higher level. This of course is being judged by the individual’s perceived notion of abuse which may vary, mainly due to lack of knowledge. No matter the situation, you can usually find someone else worse off. This does not excuse abuse, whether intentional, out of ignorance or simply from not caring as long the end meets the desired result for the person(s) inflicting it.


    2. Quite obviously Sara you are equine uneducated. Air-conditioning for horses is detrimental to their health as it dries out their lungs.
      A horse standing for 6 hours is perfectly normal in a natural environment which this art gallery is not BUT tethered on a short lead is cruel and potentially lethal for the animal. Read my previous post and that of others and you might learn a thing or two about how to treat horses.

      The owners of these horses are also accountable for this unacceptable treatment of these equines. Are you one of the owners?


      1. I agree with you Carolyn! as a horse owner I would never let anyone do that to my mare! UGH! yes there are worst things however I have to agree! that is jsut inhumane! they could have at least had stalls for them so they could move about! I mean horse panels go a long way! UGH


  2. Ignorant…Weird.. Selfish and Cruel. Ignorant: because Horses need to Move.. to prevent any Obstruction.. It cant scratch itself or lay down.. The Floor and A/c believe it or not isn’t good… Weird: Common Sense Folks.. Why not accommodate the Horses? I like the idea of Loving Horses but So that They are in The Horses Environment .. In a Corral, proper floors.. adequate space.. WATER… Selfish: Sounds like the Curator is only thinking of himself. Cruel: I agree with the many Observations and Captain Obvious that 12 horses on a short tether isn’t Art.. Can we Box the Horse up later… like its a painting? Come on.. Common Sense….


  3. I’d like to do a companion exhibit: tie 12 assorted (by race, gender, age) humans to the walls of the gallery and have 3 horse “grooms” roam around them for equal amounts of time/days. The contrast might actually make a statement about art, life.


    1. I like your idea, lets see how humans like to be tethered to a wall for 6 hours like art, bet they wouldn’t like it .


  4. This is very wrong……. for these horses to be tethered for 6 hours unable to lie down, scratch, groom themselves, etc. is mistreatment of an animal. And this abuse is for human entertainment? They appear to be standing on an unnatural surface for a horse.
    If one of them slips and the tethering is short from what i can see, then the horse could potentially break its jaw, neck or suffer an injury. I’ve witnessed similar at a racetrack in a tie-up stall and the horse had to be euthanased.


  5. This whole idea is the most idiotic ,”art,” project I have ever heard of! It is for sure animal cruelty and whoever would allow such an exhibit is totally unaware of the proper treatment of horses. Nothing about it is right….someone should stop this NOW.


  6. FGS…who ever did this does Not know a damn things about horses!!! Concrete Not Good on hooves. Not good to be stationary! Where’s the water? Do they get taking outside to pee?? Nothing for horse to see, no visual stimulation, fresh air????


  7. This is not Art to me, it is cruelty to animals. This art gallery is grasping for something , not quite sure what they are achieving other than mistreating horses!


  8. This is perverted. If these horses are “ART” … are not those along Central Park South the same? I have a problem with horses being idolized as art when so many are shuffled through slaughterhouses day in and day out. I would much rather see the equivalent of a Holocaust Museum remembering the faces of the beautiful trusting horses who were willfully betrayed and then butchered. At least that exhibit would make an impact and perhaps raise awareness of the issues that jeopardize their lives. Our horses deserve so much more, Susan Kayne. Real Horse Rescues.


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