Scrap Auto Body Parts Horse

Scrap Auto Body Parts Horse

Artists have been fascinated with depicting the horse since prehistoric times. Of all the animals we share the planet with, the horse, with its elegance, intelligence, and strength, has inspired admiration and love. Perhaps the earliest surviving example of horse art is The Wild Horse from Vogelherd, carved in mammoth ivory, dating from circa 30,000 BC.

The “Wild Horse” of the Vogelherd Cave is one of oldest carvings made by humans.


Since then, modern artists from Picasso and Jacques Lipchitz, to Franz Marc and Mario Marini have all rendered images of the horse. Following in this tradition, my love for horses has inspired me to create eight full scale horses in metal, and three times that many in smaller scale maquettes.

Big Blue Horse by Donald Gialanella

This iron horse will be gestural and abstract, like a three-dimensional sketch, using auto body parts and crude pipes as the sole building materials.

After drawing it out on paper, the next step was to acquire the necessary materials needed to construct the sculpture. To find them, I visited a scrap yard and a you-pick-the part Auto graveyard up on 118th Street in Clearwater. I found the perfect rusted pipes I needed for the legs and took six dented fenders off of wrecked cars at the auto parts yard. I then used a friend’s bender to put a gentle curve in some half inch diameter steel rods that I also got from the scrap yard that day. It was a hard mornings work in the hot sun.

The next day David Hauser and I managed to put a gentle bend in the one and three quarter inch diameter steel pipe with the use of a long lever while anchoring the other end securely. As Archimedes said, “Give me a lever long enough, and I can lift the world.” This curved pipe would become the front legs.

Working with auto body parts, fenders and quarter panels is a new experience. I’m using them to define space in an interesting way. I’m treating them as though they were crumpled and torn sheets of paper, roughly delineating the parameters of the horse and establishing mass. I also like the splashes of color they provide. The thin sheet metal is very malleable and the finish gets more interesting as it is hammered and bent. The crumpling and deformation also makes the metal more rigid, adding stability to the sculpture once it is welded..

I’m feeling very good about the progress of the piece after only two days of work. It’s looking exactly as I had imagined and the auto body parts are working better than I hoped.

I completed the head on the third day and was extremely pleased with the way it turned out. I had to fight my tendency to fill it in completely and define every facet of the form. Instead I kept it simple and bold, no eyes ears or mouth, and the result was raw and elegant. I will utilize a similar aesthetic when doing the neck, body, and legs. I have to keep telling myself, less is more.

Auto body parts horse under construction.

To be continued…

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