Hippo Ballerina Public Exhibition


PRESS RELEASE: Hippo Ballerina Public Exhibition, May  2 - Dec 31, 2022

Cavalier Gallery is pleased to reveal the return of Hippo Ballerina. The iconic bronze sculpture is installed in New York City's Pershing Square Plaza West located on the west side of Park Avenue between East 41st and East 42nd Streets in Midtown Manhattan. Created by Danish artist Bjørn Okholm Skaarup, the monumental sculpture will be accompanied by Hippo Ballerina, pirouette and Rhino Harlequin, pirouette permitted as part of the New York City Department of Transportation's Art Program.

Hippo Ballerina, the beloved 2.5-ton copper tutu-clad bronze sculpture has become an icon of New York City after previous installations at Dante Park, the Flatiron South Public Plaza, and at the Girl Scouts of America Building. Standing at over 15 feet tall, the sculpture is inspired by Degas’ Little Dancer Aged Fourteen and the dancing hippos of Walt Disney’s Fantasia, and vividly illustrates Skaarup’s ability to reinterpret subjects and themes found in ancient myths, art history, modern animation, and contemporary popular culture.

“My animal sculptures are a celebration of life and nature and its many intriguing shapes and creatures,” said artist Bjørn Skaarup. “Each animal is thoroughly culturalized; representing human allegories or use manmade tools, all placed in peculiar and surreal encounters between nature and culture. The result is a group of bronze sculptures that combines the gracious and exclusive with the communicative, distorted, and humorous.”

Known for creating a contemporary bestiary, or classical book of animals in bronze, each sculpture presents a whimsical story or allegory to decipher, with sources ranging from ancient fables and art history to music and modern animation. Rhino Harlequin, pirouette and Hippo Ballerina, pirouette both hail from Skaarup’s Commedia dell’arte series and are his unique take on the Colombina and Arlecchino (Harlequin) characters.

“Skaarup’s animal sculptures are stunning examples of his ability to masterfully rework classical and historical elements into his sculpture, said Ron Cavalier, President of Cavalier Galleries. “Just as Pershing Square Plaza represents the majesty of Grand Central as both an architectural and functional icon of the city, Skaarup’s unique sculptures add a magical element and will be wonderful companions to the thousands of passers-by who visit the plaza each day.”

“We are very excited that Pershing Square West Plaza will play host to Bjorn Skaarup’s sculptures from May until the winter holiday season,” said Fred Cerullo, the President and CEO of Grand Central Partnership, Inc. “These animated and entertaining sculptures will enliven the Plaza just as many more New Yorkers and visitors continue to return and visit the Grand Central neighborhood.”  

Hippo Ballerina, Hippo Ballerina, pirouette, and Rhino Harlequin, pirouette will be located at Pershing Square Plaza West across from Grand Central Terminal beginning May 2 through December 2022. Smaller editions of Skaarup’s works can be found at Cavalier Galleries (3 W 57th Street, Floor 4, New York, NY 10019).



Danish artist Bjørn Skaarup’s unique sculptures draw inspiration from classical mythology, late Renaissance, as well as 20th century American pop culture, while reinterpreting both classical and modern artistic themes.

From 1994-2004 Skaarup was an artist for the Danish National Museum and employed as a scientific artist at the Department of Forensic Medicine and Anthropology at the University of Copenhagen. In addition to his career as a self-taught sculptor, Okholm Skaarup is an accomplished author and illustrator of books on history, archaeology, and anatomy.

Recent solo exhibitions in the U.S. include a public installation of the monumental Hippo Ballerina in Dante Park at Lincoln Center, New York, NY; Carnival of the Animals at Cavalier Galleries in New York, NY, the Washington National Cathedral, DC, and at the Bruce Museum, Greenwich, CT. In 2015, the Collectivité of St. Barthélemy (St. Barth’s) acquired a suite of 10 animal sculptures for public display throughout the island. Skaarup’s sculptures have also been exhibited at the Koldinghus Museum, Denmark; and in Italy at Museo del Cenacolo di Ognissanti, Florence; the Four Seasons Hotel, Florence; and Hotel Cipriani, Venice. Bjørn Okholm Skaarup lives and works in New York City. He is a member of the Royal British Society of Sculptors.

Skaarup holds a Master’s degree in History and Art History from the University of Copenhagen, and a PHD in History from the European University Institute in Florence, Italy. He has furthered his education with post-doctoral studies at the Warburg Institute, London and Columbia University, New York.



Created in 1985, the not-for-profit Grand Central Partnership provides supplemental municipal services, including public safety, sanitation, tourism, and capital improvements, within the boundaries of the Grand Central Business Improvement District under contract with the New York City Department of Small Business Services. For more information, visit www.grandcentralpartnership.nyc


The New York City Department of Transportation’s Art Program (DOT Art) partners with community-based, nonprofit organizations and professional artists to present temporary public art on NYC DOT property throughout the five boroughs for up to eleven months. Artists transform streets with colorful murals, dynamic projections and eye-catching sculptures. Sidewalks, fences, triangles, medians, bridges, jersey barriers, step streets, public plazas and pedestrianized spaces serve as canvases and foundations for temporary art. Over the past 12 years, DOT Art has produced over 350 temporary artworks citywide. For more information, visit www.nyc.gov/dotart  @nyc_DOTArt


Breanna Suden on behalf of Cavalier Galleries