Ai Weiwei - Circle of Animals / Zodiac Heads

Ai Weiwei - Circle of Animals / Zodiac Heads

This installation has finsihed

12 May 2011 – 26 June 2011
The Edmond J. Safra Fountain Court

Chinese artist Ai Weiwei’s work was the first ever contemporary art sculpture to go on display in the historic courtyard of Somerset House. It was also the first major outdoor public sculpture installation by the artist in London.

The monumental installation comprised 12 bronze animal heads, re-creations of the traditional Chinese zodiac sculptures which once adorned the fountain of Yuanming Yuan, an imperial retreat in Beijing. The installation was part of an International Tour which started in New York.

I am fascinated by making public art. ‘Public’ does not just refer to the museum public; it’s for people passing by and using communal spaces. I think the public deserve the best. In the past, only a pope or an emperor had access to the artworks they commissioned. I want my work to be accessible to everyone. As Yuanming Yuan was being built, Somerset House was being constructed and for me this means that the Courtyard is the perfect setting for Circle of Animals.
Ai Weiwei, 2011

Watch the arrival and install of Ai Weiwei’s Zodiac Heads in our 18th century courtyard.



Find out more about the work of Ai Weiwei.


For more information about the World Tour, visit the Zodiac Heads website.

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