The Blue Rooster versus Congress
One of the most famous lines from the 1988 movie Young Guns came when the Billy the Kid and his band of Regulators got high on peyote. "Dirty" Steve Stephens, played by actor Dermot Mulroney, in his hallucinatory state, blurted out, "Did you guys see the size of that chicken?"
That's exactly what my son blurted out when we entered the rooftop terrace on the National Gallery of Art East Building and saw this:
Located on the National Mall, the East Building, which features Modern and Contemporary Art, struck us by surprise. We had only ever been to the National Gallery of Art West Building, known for its classic, old master paintings from European artists like Raphael, and early American portraits of the Founding generation. Even its collection of Impressionist paintings from Monet and Manet don't break the boundaries of realism like what you'll see in the East Building.
So there it was, over 15 feet high, in view of the U.S. Capitol in Washington, DC. I had to learn more about how this came to be.
Turns out that the electric blue fiberglass rooster called Hahn/Cock is the work of German sculptor Katharina Fritsch, whose winning design for the Fourth Plinth competition was on display in Trafalgar Square in London from 2013-2015. It was then purchased by the Glenstone Museum in Maryland, and is now on long-term loan to the National Gallery of Art.
Having owned chickens before, we were pretty surprised how anatomically accurate the sculpture was compared to the real thing.
The East Building, completed in 1978, was designed by Chinese-American architect I.M. Pei, whose most recognizable work is the glass pyramid at the Louvre museum in Paris. Years later, the building underwent a three-year renovation, completed in 2016, to add more exhibition space, including the rooftop terrace where Hanh/Cock is on display.
Fritsch created the sculpture as a humorous response to the male-dominated symbolism in Trafalgar Square. Here's more:
Fritsch's playful masterpiece now roosts on a high perch in view of the U.S. Capitol. No matter what your politics, it is, in my opinion, rather amusing.
If you want a laugh and a fun photo op, stop by the East Building for a selfie with the giant, blue rooster. And let the captions begin.