Log In   ·   Become A Member

Chinese Sculpturist, Ai WeiWei, Displaying Twelve Monumental Bronze Animal Heads At LongHouse Reserve Once Again

Sydney A. Braat

Artist Ai Weiwei. (Courtesy Photo)

LongHouse Reserve, known for its exquisite outdoor sculpture garden, is welcoming Ai Weiwei's Circle of Animals/Zodiac Heads: Bronze beginning Wednesday, July 8. The twelve monumental bronze animal heads will be on display through October 2021. The approximately ten-feet tall statues that represent the traditional figures of the Chinese zodiac will be installed around the perimeter of LongHouse's outdoor Albee Amphitheater.

This is the third time the celebrated Chinese artist has participated in an exhibition at LongHouse Reserve. In 2013, Ai Weiwei was honored with the LongHouse Award and has since been a very dear honoree. At the time of the Award he was under house arrest in Beijing and sent a video as his acceptance speech. Circle of Animals/Zodiac Heads: Bronze was on display in 2013 at LongHouse Reserve, which is one of 45 international locations that have hosted this magnificent work of art.

"Ai's Zodiac series returns to Longhouse Reserve just when we need it most. How ironic that an artist who understands more than most about confinement would offer his provocative work now," reflected President of LongHouse Reserve, Dianne Benson. "The gardens have never been lovelier. They're what hope looks like. It makes my heart sing to see them."

Weiwei with Circle of Animals/Zodiac Heads: Bronze. (Courtesy Photo)

The sculptures debuted at the São Paulo Biennial in 2010, and then began an international tour, arriving in the U.S. at the Pulitzer Fountain at the Grand Army Plaza in Central Park, New York in 2011. Past exhibition venues include Somerset House, London, UK; LACMA, Los Angeles; The Warhol Museum and Carnegie Museum of Art, PA; Art Gallery of Ontario, Canada; Yorkshire Sculpture Park, West Bretton, UK; Österreichische Galerie Belvedere, Vienna, Austria; The National Museum of Wildlife Art, WY; The Tuileries Garden at the Louvre, Paris, France; Museo Nacional de Antropología, Mexico City, Mexico; Taipei Fine Arts Museum, Taipei, Taiwan; Contemporary Art Centre of Malaga (CAC), Malaga, Spain; Pérez Art Museum Miami, FL; and the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden in Washington, D.C, among other notable locations around the world.

It is truly incredible how far and wide these sculptures have traveled, but there's more to the famed artist's story. In April 2011, Ai Weiwei was detained for 81 days and later released from secret captivity by Chinese Authorities, but his passport was confiscated, and he remained under house arrest until July 2015. In 2016, Ai Weiwei was granted his freedom and he visited the National Gallery in Prague to see his sculptures for the first time in person.

Each of the sculptures weight between 1,500 and 2,100 pounds. They are supported by a buried marble based weighing 600 to 1,000 pounds. They are displayed in cosmological order and according to the traditional Chinese zodiac: Rat, Ox, Tiger, Rabbit, Dragon, Snake, Horse, Goat, Monkey, Rooster, Dog, and Pig. The total combined weight of these sculptures is a whopping 46,000 pounds. They require massive lifts to move them into place among the trees and flowers at LongHouse Reserve.

The sculptures are re-envisioned versions of the 18th 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. In 1860, during the Second Opium War, British and French troops looted these magnificent creations. Today, seven heads have been found, but the location of the other five are unknown.

Ai Weiwei has committed his professional life to reinterpreting these objects in a contemporary context. He is widely known for his engagement with Chinese history and adaptation so of objects from the ancient Chinese material canon, such as furniture and ceramic objects. The artist thinks of these sculptures in the context of looting and repatriation, as well as symbols of Chinese nationalism.

The Hamptons community is invited to witness this spectacular representation of Chinese history and art through October 2021.

LongHouse Reserve is located at 133 Hands Creek Road in East Hampton. For more information, call 631-329-3568 or visit www.longhouse.org.

Sydney Braat is a Hamptons-raised and NYC-living journalist. She enjoys splitting her time between the bustling city life and relaxing atmosphere of the Hamptons. When she's not writing, Sydney is traveling. She thrives off of new experiences, cultures, cuisine, and languages. Sydney writes about the arts, philanthropy, food & wine, and shopping. https://www.sosydneyny.com/ sydneybraat

Related Articles:

Be the first to comment on this article. (Just fill out the form below)

Submit Your Comment

Please note, you are not currently logged in. Your comment will be submitted as a guest.
To submit your comment as a member, please click here.
Your Name:
* Comments will be reviewed and posted in a timely fashion
* All fields are required
Please type the word 'water'
(For spam prevention, thanks)
East End Tick Control
The East End's only New York State licensed dedicated tick and mosquito control specialists!

Southampton Masonry-Visiting the Southampton or the Wainscott locations is an exciting experience.
Southampton Masonry has been serving Long Island's masonry and tile needs since 1975. Delivering quality products from Manhattan to Montauk for over three decades. The company's continued success is due primarily to their number one priority: customer satisfaction, with a promise of prompt and courteous service from the professional, knowledgeable staff. Southampton Masonry has the largest inventory on the east end. As direct importers they can offer a large variety of the finest quality products at the most competitive pricing for both your interior and exterior projects.

Southrifty Drug 54 Jagger Lane, Southampton Village
Southrifty Drug is a small, neighborhood pharmacy with limited shelf space, and we have to be very selective about which over-the-counter items we carry. As a result you'll find a no nonsense concentration of very effective, high quality and useful products on our shelves. In this new section, we feature a number of these products that we feel are especially worthy of your consideration.

New York Title Abstract Services, Inc.
We are a title insurance services company dedicated to promptly delivering fully compliant and accurate reports, and title insurance, for residential and commercial real estate throughout New York State. Headquartered in the Hamptons, our professional team has extensive real estate experience and understands the business from all sides including title insurance, legal, sales, governmental, banking, and lending regulations.

Hamilton Hoge
As the owner’s representative our practice encompasses all aspects of a project from pre-purchase property due diligence, program development iterations, advisement on systems, analyze contracts/vendors, critical path analysis, feasibility and schedule. The strength of our approach is in facilitating organized communication. We strongly analyze all representations and warranties for the protection and benefit of our client.

The Citarella Standard. We’re passionate about sourcing and selling the world’s best seafood. When you order our fresh seafood online, what you receive always reflects the unrivaled standard of our markets. It’s hand-prepared, never frozen, and shipped overnight. 631-283-6600.