Living statue

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"The Copper Cowboy", a living statue performer in Chicago

A living statue is a performer who poses as a statue or mannequin, usually with realistic statue-like makeup, Performances are commonly on the street busking but may also be at events where the artist is paid. A living statue attraction, as a performance, is the artist's ability to stand motionless and occasionally come to life to comic or startling effect.


The tableau vivant, or group of living statues, was a regular feature of medieval and Renaissance festivities and pageantry, such as royal entries by rulers into cities. Typically a group enacting a scene would be mounted on an elaborate stand decorated to look like a monument, placed on the route of the procession. A living statue appeared in a scene of the 1945 French masterpiece film Les enfants du paradis (Children of Paradise), and early living statue pioneers include the London-based artists Gilbert and George in the 1960s. In the early years of the 20th century, the German dancer Olga Desmond put on “Evenings of Beauty” (Schönheitsabende) in which she posed nude in imitation of classical works of art ('living pictures').


Since 1996 the annual "World Statues Festival" is held in Arnhem, Netherlands, initially under the name "Rijnfestijn".

The University of Business and Social Sciences in Buenos Aires, Argentina has hosted a National Contest of Living Statues since the year 2000.[1]

Since 2011, the International Festival of Living Statues has been hosted by Masca Theatre in Bucharest, Romania, where there is a focus on developing the form through artistic research.[2]


Performing as a living statue is a prevalent form of busking, especially in places with a high level of tourism. A living statue performer will strategically choose a spot, preferably one with a high level of foot traffic, and out of the way. The performer creates the illusion of complete stillness while standing. Sometimes, passers-by do not realize the performer is a real person, which often causes surprise when the 'statue' gives them a small gesture (such as a wink or nod). A busker's objective is to create moments of interaction that result in a tip. The amount of money a performer makes day to day depends on their ability to effectively interact with the crowd.


See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Contest of Living Statues". Retrieved 2014-01-23.
  2. ^ "Living Statues International Festival". Teatrul Masca | Teatru in Bucuresti (in Romanian). Retrieved 2021-03-19.

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