Swiss Army Horse: A Kinetic Sculpture Toy That Does Everything

Swiss Army Horse, 2000
Recycled steel, grout
dimensions variable
Collection: Marilyn Houlberg

I call this sculpture the Swiss Army Horse because it can be posed in so many positions that it reminds me of the famous knives. When I first made it, I was at my friend Kenneth’s house (where I did all my welding back when I lived in Pilsen). A bunch of people showed up for the weekly brunch/art fest and we were sitting in the back yard playing with the horse. I had thought it was a cool enough piece, but nothing, you know, special. The more we played with it though, the more everyone liked it— “Look! It’s Zombie Horse!” “Hey, he can fly like Superman!” “Wow! He sits, he lifts his leg to pee, he plays dead!” etc..

Back then, I was still figuring out stuff like pricing. Someone asked what I was gonna charge for the horse and I think I said something like 30 or 50 bucks. It was small and hadn’t taken all that long to make. But the more poses we found, the more everyone though I should charge for it. It was kinda like an auction, and by the time brunch was ready I think we had the price up around $150. Which is what the horse did eventually sell for.

The body of the horse is  an old strap ratchet for tie downs. The front legs are wrenches, and the head was some kind of faucet or nozzle I’d found in a junk yard. I filled in parts of the head with black grout.