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Sculptural project featuring 200 horse heads in Neuburg an der Donau

Creating 200 red, blue, white, black, yellow and green horse heads, Ottmar Hörl put an important symbol of Neuburg in perspective. Some of them were mounted on pipes to become oversized hobbyhorses and the rest of them was attached to the walls of houses in Neuburg. In the year of the Bavarian state exhibition, the horse head provided colourful spots all over town, serving as an incentive for communication and attracting attention.

The idea for the project was developed to coincide with the Bavarian state exhibition, Von Kaisers Gnaden. 500 Jahre Fürstentum Pfalz-Neuburg (The divine right of the Emperor. 500 years of the Principality of the Neuburg Palatinate), which opens in the Castle on 3 June. “In most state exhibitions, there was a symbolic animal. Here in Neuburg, we immediately thought of the horse,” says Dr Dieter Distl, the manager of the office for cultural activities. “The horse has great importance in the history of Neuburg. Two naked boys with hobbyhorses are depicted in the Neuburg coat of arms, because Palatinate-Neuburg was established in 1505 to take care of Ottheinrich and Philipp, the two orphaned children of the Duke and Duchess. The hobbyhorses also refer to the fact that the boys, two and three years old, respectively, were still under age at the time. When looking at the two important exhibitions in the Castle today, the ‘State Gallery of Flemish Baroque Paintings’ and the state exhibition, we realise that the horse plays a major part as a stately symbol there as well. It was the Rolls-Royce of those days.”

During a personal conversation last summer, Distl succeeded in convincing artist Ottmar Hörl to do the project despite being sceptical about the idea at first. To Hörl, it was clear from the beginning that he did not want a cute children’s toy for his design. “I wanted a dignified, a beautiful horse.” His horse’s head is therefore proud and realistic and now adorns the Danube waterfront and bridge as well as numerous residential and business buildings. So far, the citizens of Neuburg have accepted the project with great enthusiasm. During just one weekend, a sufficient number of home owners were willing to have the walls of their houses decorated with a Hörl Horse until October. Many have already shown interest in purchasing one so as to be able to keep the horse multiple when the event is over. Thus, Hörl’s artistic concept bears fruit: producing his art in a public environment for the people. “I do not just work for galleries or an expert audience. Everyone who is interested in art should be able to take part in the artistic process.”