Ai Weiwei Circle of Animals/Zodiac Heads: Gold
LocationCrow Collection of Asian Art 2010 Flora St. Dallas, TX 75201
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Chinese artist and activist Ai Weiwei has made headlines for his provactive pieces and criticism of the Communist Chinese government, words and works that have turned him into a sort of moral hero in the face of crackdowns and complacency. This particular series of twelve bronze, gilded animal head sculptures adheres to his Marcel Duchamp-inspired "readymade" aesthetic—examining what is real, a copy, and just fake. The form for each head, one for all the signs of the Chinese Zodiac, is taken from an Italian-designed fountain clock made for Yuanming Yuan, a summer palace built for the emperors of the Qing Dynasty. It was already a mix of European and Chinese styles, an appropriation in itself, and the Zodiac imagery can be both a powerful talisman to the past or cultural kitsch.