Fourth Plinth

How London Created the Smallest Sculpture Park in the World

Foreword by Grayson Perry
Texts by Isabel de Vasconcellos

‘Since 1999, the plinth has acted as the smallest but most prominent sculpture park in the world.… It’s a strange and lovely thing.’ — Sunday Times

A marble statue of a heavily pregnant disabled woman, a model of Nelson’s HMS Victory inside a huge bottle, a giant blue cockerel, and a great big bronze thumbs up. These are just some of the eye-catching art works that have adorned the empty stone pedestal in London’s Trafalgar Square known as the Fourth Plinth. Since 1999, many leading international artists such as Antony Gormley, Hans Haacke, Rachel Whiteread, Mark Wallinger, Yinka Shonibare, Elmgreen and Dragset have been invited to propose works for the space. The results have divided opinion across the capital and beyond, prompting debate not only about the merits of each commission, but also about the value of art in the public realm. 

This book tells the story of every commission that has stood upon the plinth, including the very latest, David Shrigley’s Really Good, unveiled in September 2016. Individual chapters present the background and genesis of each work, with behind-the-scenes views of the fabrication, contributions from those involved, and in situ shots of all the installed works. And just as each commission reflects aspects of London’s past and present, the book celebrates the impact of art on today’s creative and multicultured city.

Grayson Perry CBE RA is an internationally celebrated artist, writer and broadcaster. He was awarded the Turner Prize in 2003 and was elected a Royal Academician in 2012; the following year, he received a CBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List, and in 2015 was appointed a Trustee of the British Museum and Chancellor of the University of the Arts London. Playing to the Gallery, the book of his 2013 Reith Lectures, is published by Penguin. He was a member of the Fourth Plinth Commissioning Group from 2009 to 2016.

Isabel de Vasconcellos is a writer, curator and arts advisor based in London.