Joe Fafard, Running Horses, 2017, powder coated aluminum, 10–12 m installation width. National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa. © Joe Fafard. Photo: NGC

Throughout his career, Joe Fafard has represented everyday aspects of prairie life, experimenting with materials and techniques to explore sculptural concerns such as form, perspective and presence. 

He is renowned for his sculptures of cows, bulls and horses, which are often imbued with a sense of personality. Running Horses fuses the artist’s regionalist vision with 21st-century sculpting technologies to capture the essence of the horse as beauty and unharnessed power. With manes and tails streaming behind them, Fafard’s herd of eleven horses seems to gallop along Ottawa’s Sussex Drive towards the city centre.

Exhibition

Running Horses by Joe Fafard

Location

National Gallery of Canada
Exterior along Sussex Drive
380 Sussex Drive
Ottawa, ON K1N 9N4
Canada

I hope that people can be reminded of that awesome thing which creation is, that we remember that this is a planet that is our only home and how marvellous it is. It is such a very wonderful gift.

– Joe Fafard

The New Running Horses

Although beloved by visitors from across Canada and around the world, the original Running Horses sculpture could not be displayed outside year-round, as it would eventually start showing signs of deterioration. Even with seasonal switching to protect the work from Ottawa’s harsh winter weather, the steel set of horses had changed from its original appearance. Joe Fafard proposed an innovative solution that would allow the sculpture to remain outside permanently by using an aluminium structure and a modified coating procedure.

The Gallery worked with the artist to produce a new, all-weather version, using the original cut-out patterns and the same moulds for the grass-inspired stands. The original set has also been refinished with the new coating procedure and remains available for indoor exhibitions, while the new Running Horses is on permanent view outside the Gallery, where visitors can see these iconic wild horses run free throughout the year.


The horse represents a certain energy, a wild energy, that we can also use by taming it and by respecting it. I feel the horse is a connection that we have to our own nature, to our own energy.

– Joe Fafard

Featured Videos

The new Running Horses by Joe Fafard

The original Running Horses sculpture could not be displayed outside year-round, as it would eventually deteriorate. Don’t miss the artist’s new, all-weather version, now installed outside the Gallery, along Sussex Drive. 

NGC Building and Grounds -- Joe Fafard's Running Horses (Full video)

Listen to Joe Fafard evocatively describe how he created the sculpture Running Horses in this video interview from 2012. Then come see the new sculpture in person outside the National Gallery of Canada in Ottawa.

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Because it’s of nature – and it represents a force of nature – to place it suddenly in a city landscape makes a certain statement. To the viewer, it represents a link with nature, with the countryside and placing it in the city like that seems to add some significance.

– Joe Fafard