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THE DAY THE WALL CAME DOWN: The History Behind the Sculpture


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There are two sister castings of the 1-1/4 life size bronze monumental sculpture, " The Day the Wall Came Down. " The monument's composition is five horses, one stallion and four mares, running through the rubble of the collapsed Berlin Wall. One casting was placed in a reunited and free Berlin on July 2, 1998. Delivered by the U. S. Air Force on the 50th anniversary of the Berlin Airlift, installed by the German Army, and unveiled by former U. S. President George Bush. The sculpture is a gift of friendship from the American people to the people of Germany. The second or "American" casting is permanently displayed in the central courtyard of the George Bush Presidential Library, adjacent to the campus of Texas A&M University. This second casting was first placed on loan to the state of Georgia for the 1996 Olympic Games and then moved to the new Presidential Library when it opened in the fall of 1997.

"The Day The Wall Came Down" is not about horses. It is about Freedom. Throughout the centuries, horses have been used by artists to represent freedom. In this monument, the horses symbolize the personal drive for freedom that is shared by people of all nations. The Berlin Wall was a visual reminder of the oppression that still exists in many parts of the world. This sculptural wall also represents all walls or obstacles to personal freedom, both past and present. The collapse of the Berlin Wall on November 9, l989 was a moment of joy shared around the world, captured by the artist in this sculpture.

The idea developed as Veryl was sculpting small studies of five horses during November of 1989. At the same time, vast historical changes were unfolding in Eastern Europe. On the night of November 9th, Veryl was transfixed by the television accounts of the fall of the Berlin Wall and the scenes of East Berliners as they surged through the openings and into the West. That night, she had a dream that her sculpted horses, representing these people, were galloping through the rubble of the fallen Berlin Wall. Her sculpture, "The Day The Wall Came Down," captures that moment of joy when the Berlin Wall could no longer contain the will of the people. These two identical monuments were cast by Valley Bronze Foundry of Oregon, each taking over 1 and 1/2 years to complete. Each sculpture is 30 feet long, 18 feet wide, 12 feet high and weighs approximately 7 tons.

Veryl traveled to Berlin on the first anniversary of the Berlin Wall's collapse to better understand the wall in a political, emotional and physical sense. The graffiti on the western side of the Wall in the sculpture was duplicated from actual writings on the Berlin Wall. Veryl sculpted 1 1/4 life size replicas of these four foot wide concrete panels, which stood 14 feet high and extended for 105 miles around West Berlin. In her sculpture, she broke these panels beneath the horses from the West to the East to expose the graffiti. In many places the wall was doubled and between these two barricades lay the infamous "death strip." These walls had separated families and loved ones for over 28 years. Veryl represents this separation by placing the stallion, symbolic of man, entirely within what would have been East Berlin. The mares, symbolic of family, are passing the "death strip" and entering the West - to a new life of freedom.

By using horses, Veryl has transcended ethnic, political, cultural and religious diversity among peoples. The horses simply represent humanity and the sculpture represents a victory of the human spirit. As someone once reflected, "This sculpture carries no one's flag - yet it carries everyone's flag."

The Berlin Wall stood as the most visible portion of the Iron Curtain. When it fell, the Iron Curtain and even the Soviet Union were pulled down in its wake. "The Day The Wall Came Down" will remind future generations of these historic geopolitical events. And more importantly, that political freedom is not granted, it is earned, and it must always be cherished, guarded and defended.


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