Cows invade central station

Florence opens its gates to italy’s first cowparade

Editorial Staff
October 6, 2005

Silent stampede at Santa Maria Novella, as Florence’s central station opens its gates to Italy’s first CowParade. Until October 13, travelers arriving from all over Italy and abroad will be able to preview the exhibit considered the world’s largest public art charity event. It invaded the station on September 26th with its life-sized fiber-glass cow replicas, currently placed by ticket counters, on track platforms and at station exits. Grandi Stazioni is also advertising the show by placing cows in station squares and ticket halls of other stations throughout the peninsula, such as Milano Centrale, Venezia Santa Lucia and Roma Termini in order to attract visitors to the CowParade.


The first CowParade, created by father and son sculptors Walter and Pascal Knapp, debuted in Zurich in 1998. Since then, artists from all over the world have been delighted to take advantage of this original and sometimes daring means of artistic expression. Similar exhibitions have been staged in cities like Chicago, New York, Kansas City, Houston, and London and have evolved not only in size but in creativity and quality of art as well.


The first of eighty cows made its appearance this summer in Florence’s Piazza della Republica in front of the famous Giubbe Rosse Cafè, where Italian artist Alessio Michahellas went to work creating his MuccaBrucca (Cow Caterpiller) with a bright red coat of paint. Each cow has an official sponsor to cover costs and at the end of the event, the cows are auctioned off for charity. Just a few proud owners of a CowParade creation include Elton John, George Bush Senior, Queen Rania of Jordan, Nelson Mandela, Ringo Starr, and former Czech president Vaclav Havel. This year, CowParades have been organized in Florence, Moscow, Monaco, Barcelona, Bratislava, Geneva, Bucharest, Mexico City, Sao Paolo, and South Africa.


The artists often come independently or from various schools of art and design, Academies of Fine Arts and art clubs. All have been approved by a committee headed by Gianluca Marziani, art critic and gallery owner. The 70 best projects are painted on 3 different breeds of cow,  the Standing Cow, Grazing Cow and Sitting Cow.


One of the objectives of CowParade Florence 2005 is to raise funds for the Meyer Children’s Hospital in Florence. This year for the first time, there will also be a Baby CowParade, an international event dedicated to children. 10 calves will be available for the children at the Meyer Playroom to paint and personalise as they like, with the help of the artists involved in the Meyer project. Their efforts will be on display in Piazza Ghiberti.

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