Phillips announced that it will be offering an edition of Ai Weiwei’s Zodiac Heads from 2010 in its upcoming Contemporary Art Evening Sales in February. The twelve gold-plated sculptures portraying the signs of the ancient Chinese zodiac are offered as Lot 8 with a pre-sale estimate of £2–£3m.
The artwork is a commentary on the famous incomplete set of animal heads looted from the zodiac clock created by an Italian Jesuit in the Old Summer Palace of Beijing during the Qing dynasty. Working from the seven originals that remain, Ai Weiwei and his team had to creatively imagine the five heads that are missing. This forced them to draw upon other sources for ‘authentic’ Chinese portrayals of these creatures, such as the dragon, which is based on images from tapestry and print.
Circle of Animals/Zodiac Heads was executed as six large editions in bronze, almost 10 feet in height and intended for outdoor display; and six smaller editions plated with gold, intended for interior display and between 20 and 30 inches in height. The project was officially introduced by then-Mayor Bloomberg at the Pulitzer Fountain at Grand Army Plaza, New York, in May 2011, and has since shown at sites and museums throughout North America, Europe, and Asia.
Watch a video of Momart installing the edition of 12 bronze figures for an exhibition at the Somerset House in London back in 2011.
The sculpture of the Chinese zodiac signs (rat, ox, tiger, rabbit, dragon, snake, horse, sheep, monkey, rooster, dog and pig) will be on view at Phillips Brook Street gallery from February 2-6 and at Phillips, Berkeley Square from 7-12 February.
Image: Ai Weiwei - Circle of Animals/Zodiac Heads © Phillips