Artist's latest work is a racing certainty for controversy

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The Independent Online
FOR SOME people, an artist's decision to buy a racehorse and call it a work of art, is yet another case of the public being taken for a ride.

For others, a day at the races will be as rewarding as a day in any gallery: this is conceptual art taken to an extreme - with everything and anything becoming a work of art, not just because it is in a gallery.

The artist Mark Wallinger says his chestnut filly is 'the best and most realistic representation of what she is you'll ever find. She's a pretty good likeness of herself. I've closed the gap between representation and actuality'.

The filly was christened 'A Real Work of Art'. She makes her debut this September, in both the art and racing worlds, in the 1994 flat racing season.

At the moment, however, she is rather poorly: she is recuperating from a severe bout of flu and a horsey cough.

Through her, Mr Wallinger seeks to make analogies between horse- racing and art - breeding and gambling, ownership and wealth, provenance and status symbols. These are themes on which he has touched in previous work, though in more traditional ways: he showed four paintings of life-size stallions at the Saatchi Collection in 1993.

Mr Wallinger, who cites Stubbs as an influence, stressed that these stallions are descended from a horse called 'Eclipse', born in 1777 and painted by Stubbs. However, he added: 'Apart from anything, I always wanted to own a racing horse.'

Although Mr Wallinger does not ride, he talked of the spiritual uplift and adrenalin buzz at the track - generally more thrilling, he said, than being in a gallery.

A Real Work of Art was bought last autumn in Ireland by a syndicate of 12 investors, most of them from the art world: Each put up pounds 1,750. When Mr Wallinger's dealer, Anthony Reynolds, described the beauty of her chestnut colouring, you might have thought that the artist, not nature, had painted her. He said: 'She exists as a real work of art whether she runs or not.'

The horse was unavailable for comment.

International Art Market, page 8

(Photographs omitted)

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