Monday, April 23, 2012

Ai WeiWei at the Hirshhorn : Ai Weiwei: Circle of Animals/Zodiac Heads

Ai Weiwei: Circle of Animals/Zodiac Heads

April 19, 2012 to February 24, 2013

"This April, the Hirshhorn will install noted Chinese artist Ai Weiwei’s monumental outdoor work Circle of Animals/Zodiac Heads, which has recently been drawing crowds in cities around the world from New York and Los Angeles to London and Taipei. The twelve bronze animal heads representing the signs of the Chinese zodiac, each of which stand approximately ten feet high, will be displayed around the perimeter of the fountain in the Museum’s central plaza. These sculptures are re-envisioned and enlarged versions of the original eighteenth-century heads that were designed during the Qing dynasty for the fountain-clock of the Yuanming Yuan [Garden of Perfect Brightness], an imperial retreat outside Beijing, and which were pillaged in 1860 by invading Europeans.

Ai Weiwei: Circle of Animals/Zodiac Heads
 is organized by the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden and AW Asia." (from the 
Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden ).

Find the Book at the Central Library

From its fascinating historical origins to its contemporary symbolic significance, every aspect of Ai Weiwei's beautiful and monumental work of art is explored in this illustrated volume that also guides readers through the highlights of the artist's career. Ai Weiwei's Circle of Animals/Zodiac Heads features twelve large-scale bronze animal heads, each depicting a segment of the ancient Chinese zodiac. As a major work of public art, it is an extraordinary accomplishment in its own right. But as this book explains, the origins and motivation behind the piece are as compelling as the work itself. Ai Weiwei based the sculpture on a complex zodiac fountain that was built for an imperial retreat in eighteenth-century China. When the retreat was looted by European soldiers, the fountain's bronze animal heads were stolen--only seven of the twelve are known to survive. By reimagining the work Ai Weiwei confronts uncomfortable truths within Chinese and Western history. This book compares Ai Weiwei's work to the original zodiac heads; features interviews with Ai Weiwei conducted at various periods during the sculpture's development; offers a historical overview of the events surrounding the mountain's looting; and follows the trail of the original heads as they are sold and resold amidst political furor. The book tells the riveting story behind a highly acclaimed piece of modern art, while providing an introduction to one of our generation's most important artists.

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