• Ai Weiwei, Circle of Animals/Zodiac Heads (detail). 2010. Bronze, dragon 134 x 66 x 77 in. Image courtesy of the artist. Photo credit: Tim Nighswander.
    Ai Weiwei Circle of Animals
    Zodiac Heads
    January 24, 2016 — May 01, 2016

In creating contemporary versions of these 12 Chinese zodiac animals on an oversized scale, Ai Weiwei focuses attention on issues of the repatriation while extending his ongoing exploration of what constitutes Chinese art and identity.

Internationally acclaimed Chinese artist Ai Weiwei’s 12 monumental, bronze zodiac animal heads reinterpret those that once adorned the famed 18th-century fountain-clock of the Yuanming Yuan (Old Summer Palace), an imperial retreat outside Beijing. In 1860, the Yuanming Yuan was ransacked by French and British troops, and the heads were pillaged. In creating contemporary versions of these 12 Chinese zodiac animals on an oversized scale, Ai Weiwei focuses attention on issues of the repatriation while extending his ongoing exploration of what constitutes Chinese art and identity. His first major public sculpture project, Circle of Animals/Zodiac Heads is accompanied by supplemental historical material concerning the emperor's fountain, along with a behind-the-scenes look at the making of the bronzes. Circle of Animals/Zodiac Heads is a collaborative project of the artist, his studio, and AW Asia in New York.

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