June 17, 2024

Circle of Animals/Zodiac Heads, the first major public sculpture installation in the United States by Chinese artist Ai Weiwei, formally opened the other day at the Pulitzer Fountain outside the Plaza Hotel despite the absence of the artist.  The sculptures copy 18th century heads found in the gardens of the Old Summer Palace near Beijing, which was ransacked by British and French troops during the Second Opium War of 1860. An outspoken and increasingly vocal critic of Communism, Ai was arrested last month in China on what many consider fabricated charges designed to keep him silent. His whereabouts are currently unknown. A curator from the Guggenheim, which has launched an online petition calling for Ai’s release, was on hand for the opening to read the artist’s words: “Without freedom of speech there is no modern world, just a barbaric one.”



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