Chinese artist Ai Weiwei’s Circle of Animals/Zodiac Heads is considered one of the most-viewed sculpture projects in history of contemporary art. The project includes 12 bronze sculptures inspired by the fabled fountain-clock of the Yuanming Yuan, an 18th century imperial retreat outside of Beijing. The fountain-clock featured the animals of the Chinese zodiac and spouted water every two-hours. In 1860, the Yuanming Yuan was ransacked by French and British troops, and the animal heads were pillaged. Seven of the 12 animal heads have since been discovered (rat, ox, tiger, rabbit, horse, monkey and boar). Weiwei used his imagination when it came to the remaining five (dragon, snake, goat, rooster, and dog).
[Left: The documentary Ai Weiwei Never Sorry follows the artist as he works and clashes with the Chinese government.]
Weiwei’s bronze animal heads stand on bronze columns — each sculpture stands approximately 10 feet tall and weighs close to 2,000 pounds. Circle of Animals/Zodiac Heads will be placed on the grounds of The Ringling, the State Art Museum of Florida in June and stay until May 2018.