Horses of a Different Color: Unicorns in Art
Shinique Smith has been enamored by unicorns her whole life. She keeps a bag of My Little Ponies by her desk for inspiration. “I suppose as an adult I lost the hope of seeing one because some say they only appear to virgins,” she explains. “Now, I feel like they evoke a sparkle of graceful mystery and remind me of my own youthful wishes.”
Smith has put bits of unicorns in three paintings, but recently made her first unicorn sculpture, inspired by “cotton candy, summer playtime, reading fairy tales on my canopy bed kind of feelings.” The piece, called Miracle, is in her current show at David Castillo in Miami.
Smith is one of many artists across the ages fascinated by the wondrous, magical beasts, from the unknown master who created the beloved Unicorn Tapestries, now on view in a special show at the Metropolitan Museum’s medieval branch, the Cloisters, to India’s Tejal Shah, whose humanoid unicorns are in her cutting-edge video installation at Barbara Gross Galerie in Munich; from Jewish silversmiths to Islamic miniaturists to contemporary figures like Saint Clair Cemin, Thomas Woodruff, and more.
Click here for a roundup of unicorn art from around the world.
Shinique Smith, Miracle, 2013, clothing, bedding, stuffed toy, ribbon, and rope. COURTESY THE ARTIST AND JAMES COHAN GALLERY.