In an Unsettling Sign of the Times, People Are Covering Beloved Public Statues Around the World With Face Masks

The revised artworks reflect growing anxieties.

'Fearless Girl' at the New York Stock Exchange. Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images.
Fearless Girl at the New York Stock Exchange. Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images.

Fearless Girl is wearing one outside the New York Stock Exchange. In Taiwan, Confucius has one too, and on the shores of Lake Geneva, Freddie Mercury has one covering his famously oversized teeth.

What are they wearing? Like many people around the world these days, surgical masks.

First, a caveat: as the Centers for Disease Control have been making clear, these masks are only necessary for health-care workers and those who are already ill.

Supplies of N95 masks in particular, which are essential for physicians, nurses, and others tending to patients with COVID-19, are dangerously low, and the health officials have been warning private citizens not to stockpile them unnecessarily.

But call it a sign of the times: masks are nevertheless cropping up on public sculptures around the world. And while we discourage anyone from using these surgical items for unnecessary purposes, perhaps the images below speak to how the anxiety produced by the coronavirus crisis has spilled over into the most public part of the art world.

 

Fearless Girl in New York

The 'Fearless Girl' statue stands across from the New York Stock Exchange. (Photo by Luiz Roberto Lima-ANB/Pacific Press/LightRocket via Getty Images)

The Fearless Girl statue stands across from the New York Stock Exchange. (Photo by Luiz Roberto Lima-ANB/Pacific Press/LightRocket via Getty Images)

 

The Magic Carpet Ride statue in Cardiff by the Sea, California

The “Magic Carpet Ride” statue along Highway 101 in Cardiff-by-the-Sea, California. (COVID-19). (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)

 

Confucius in Taoyuan, Taiwan 

A statue of Confucius by Taiwans sculptor Lin Hsin-lai, in Taoyuan, northern Taiwan. (Photo by Sam Yeh / AFP) (Photo by SAM YEH/AFP via Getty Images)

 

Titeuf by Zep in Geneva, Switzerland

The character Titeuf by artist Philippe Chappuis, alias Zep wears a mask in Geneva. (Photo by FABRICE COFFRINI/AFP via Getty Images)

 

The Mannekin-Pis statue in Brussels, Belgium

The Manneken-Pis statue that wears a protective mask support of medical workers in Brussels, Belgium. (Photo by ARIS OIKONOMOU/AFP via Getty Images)

 

Sculptures at Plaza San Martin in Buenos Aires, Argentina

Sculptures at Plaza San Martin in Buenos Aires, Argentina. (Photo by JUAN MABROMATA/AFP via Getty Images)

 

Freddie Mercury in Montreux, Switzerland 

The statue of Queen frontman Freddie Mercury dons a mask on the shore of the Lake Geneva. (Photo by Fabrice COFFRINI / AFP) (Photo by FABRICE COFFRINI/AFP via Getty Images)

 

Greyfriars Bobby in Edinburgh, Scotland

The beloved statue of the dog Greyfriars Bobby that has had a face mask placed on it in Edinburgh. (Photo by ANDY BUCHANAN / AFP) (Photo by ANDY BUCHANAN/AFP via Getty Images)

 

King Baudouin in Oostende, Belgium

Statue of King Baudouin with a mouth mask in Oostende. Photo by Nico Vereecken / Photonews via Getty Images)

 

Eros Bound in Krakow, Poland

Igor Mitoraj’s sculpture ‘Eros Bendato’ (Eros Bound) at the Main Square in Krakow, Poland. (Photo by Beata Zawrzel/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

 

A statue in Luxembourg Square, Belgium

A statue at the Luxembourg Square in Brussels, Belgium. (Photo by Thierry Monasse/Getty Images)

 

Statues outside the Royal Princess Margaret Hospital, Toronto, Canada

The statues at Princess Margaret Hospital in Toronto. (Steve Russell/Toronto Star via Getty Images)

The statues at Princess Margaret Hospital in Toronto. (Steve Russell/Toronto Star via Getty Images)

 

Make Way for Ducklings in Boston, Massachusetts 

A view of the Make Way for Ducklings statue wearing crafted face in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

 

A sculpture at the Jardin des Tuleries in Paris, France

A statue in jardin des tuileries with a face mask on his face in Paris, France. (Photo by Jerome Gilles/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

 

A statue in Sulaimaniyah, Iraq

A statue in the city of Sulaimaniyah, in the Kurdish autonomous region of northern Iraq. (Photo by SHWAN MOHAMMED/AFP via Getty Images)

 

A female statue in Madrid, Spain

A protective mask and gloves are placed on a statue in Madrid Center. (Photo by Pablo Blazquez Dominguez/Getty Images)

A protective mask and gloves are placed on a statue in Madrid Center. (Photo by Pablo Blazquez Dominguez/Getty Images)

 

Alex de Souza in Istanbul, Turkey

Face mask and medical gloves were put on the statue of Alex de Souza in Istanbul. (Photo by Sebnem Coskun/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

 

Emmeline Pankhurst in Manchester, United Kingdom

A view of the Emmeline Pankhurst at St Peters Square in Manchester. (Photo by Andy Barton/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)

 

Rocky Balboa at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, USA

A sign sitting at the base of the Rocky Balboa Sculpture outside the Philadelphia Art Museum. Photo by Gilbert Carrasquillo/Getty Images.

A sign sitting at the base of the Rocky Balboa Sculpture outside the Philadelphia Art Museum. Photo by Gilbert Carrasquillo/Getty Images.


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