ArtExhibitionsAi Weiwei: Circle of Animals / Zodiac Heads: Gold
Special Installation

Ai Weiwei: Circle of Animals / Zodiac Heads: Gold

October 3, 2015 to January 31, 2016 Located in the Art of Asia Gallery

Renowned Chinese artist and activist Ai Weiwei (b. 1957) took as his inspiration for his twelve Chinese zodiac bronze sculptures from those that once graced the Qing dynasty fountain, in an eighteenth-century imperial retreat outside Beijing. Like other ornate objects, the original pieces were looted by the British and French troops in the Second Opium War in 1860. Viewed as a symbol of “cultural theft”, Weiwei re-created the gold-plated sculptures in 2010 as a subversive commentary on the nature of looting and repatriation.

Ai Weiwei


An artist, architectural designer and social activist, Ai Weiwei’s works employ a wide range of media. He has been openly critical of the Chinese government’s stance on democracy and record of human rights violations, investigated government corruption, and cover-ups, and was held for 81 days at an undisclosed location in 2011. Following his four years of house arrest, Chinese authorities recently returned his passport to Ai Weiwei, whereupon he left China for Germany, where he is currently staying in anticipation of the opening of a new exhibition. Ai’s son and wife have been living there.


Ai Weiwei. Ram, 2010. Gold gilded cast bronze, 25 ¼” x 20 7/8” x 14 7/8” (not including wooden stand). Courtesy of Heather James Fine Art.

Ai Weiwei

The Circle of Animals / Zodiac Heads exhibition will also include eighteenth-century Chinese bronze works from the Phoenix Art Museum’s collection. Curated by Dr. Janet Baker. What’s your zodiac? Share your visit with Ai Weiwei’s #zodiacheads to Facebook, Twitter or Instagram! Photography is permitted in this exhibition.

This exhibition is organized by Phoenix Art Museum. Sponsored by Heather Sacre and Jim Carona, Marilyn A. Papp, Asian Arts Council, and GFWC Desert Jade Women’s Club Endowment.


Ai Weiwei. Rabbit. 2010. Gold gilded cast bronze, 27 7/8” x 9 7/8”x 18 7/8” (not including wooden stand). Courtesy of Heather James Fine Art.

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On view for a limited time, exhibitions present art from across the centuries and the globe, from iconic fashion to Old Master paintings, contemporary photography to historical objects of Asia.


Discover the biographies, histories, and works of featured artists in the Phoenix Art Museum Collection.


Featuring more than 20,000 objects in nine collecting areas, the collection spans many cultures and periods, bringing the world to our city, and our city to the world.


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