What started as a well-meaning gift has been transformed into a symbol for—among other things—the American economy, establishment politics, and the patriarchy. Its prominent location at the intersection of Broadway and Morris Street and its international reputation makes it a hot spot for trying to make a statement, according to Piccolo.
“It’s such a well-known icon that if people are trying to get attention for one reason or another, it’s a logical place to come,” he said.
Over the years, activists have covered and splashed the bull with various substances, but it’s withstood little damage. On Christmas Eve in 2010, artist
wrapped Charging Bull
in crocheted pink, purple, and green yarn as an artistic statement, creating a rather less fearsome looking creature. In 2017, a woman was arrested for pouring blue paint on the bull to protest President Trump’s refusal to participate in the Paris climate agreement. And just last month, climate change protesters splattered the bull with red dye to symbolize the “blood on [the] hands” of the entire financial community, according to NBC
But Charging Bull’s most well-known adversary was another statue: Fearless Girl (2017). The sculpture was erected across from the bull to make it appear as if a young girl was facing off against the much larger, symbolic animal. Much like Charging Bull, the statue was placed there in the middle of the night before International Women’s Day in 2017.
was created by artist Kristen Visbal and commissioned by Boston-based financial firm State Street Global Advisors to draw attention to the lack of women in corporate leadership. And while well-wishers, including New York City mayor Bill de Blasio
, lauded the statue for its feminist outlook, critics—and Di Modica himself—viewed the move as nothing more than a cheap marketing ploy.
“That is not a symbol! That’s an advertising trick,” Di Modica told the New York Post
at the time. Fearless Girl
was originally slated to stand across from the bull for a week, but an outpouring of support for the statue led to de Blasio extending her stay for over a year. Fearless Girl
then relocated in April 2018 to a spot near the New York Stock Exchange due to safety concerns from the mayor’s office.
Piccolo thinks the protesters who use the statue are too short-sighted, and that the bull’s real meaning will become clear in 100 or 500 years.
“I think Charging Bull’s ultimate symbolism will be as a powerful image of America in the 20th and 21st [centuries],” Piccolo said.