Monday, June 6, 2011

Zodiac Sculptures in NYC

After window shopping on Fifth Avenue, we walked through the Grand Army Plaza where an exhibit of 12 ten foot high bronze animal heads had been installed. While I was able to figure out that The Circle of Animals/Zodiac Heads represented the Chinese zodiac, I was not able to find out anything more about the sculptures ~ except that I am a Tiger based on the year of my birth.

So, returning from my trip, I did a Google search only to find out that these sculptures are quite controversial ~ the sculptor, Ai Weiwei has been detained by the Chinese government since April 3 and wasn't present at either the London or NYC openings.
These bronze heads are enlarged versions of those designed in the 18th century for an emperor's garden palace near Beijing. Originally, the sculptures were part of the famous fountain clock and spouted water for two hours a day.

The gardens and imperial compound were destroyed during the Second Opium War in 1860; the original heads were looted, but began to show up in the art market in 2000. As the Chinese government views both the original sculptures and Ai Weiwei's works to be their property, that is where the controversy begins. Read the full article and see more photos here.

This last image shows a portion of the exhibit at London's Somerset House.

{image from here}

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