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Did an Anonymous Chinese Artist Plagiarize This Anish Kapoor Sculpture?

The British-Indian artist sure thinks so, and is threatening legal action.
'Cloud Gate' by Anish Kapoor (2006), courtesy of City of Chicago

Last month a sculpture of a ‘fallen angel’ on the streets of Beijing made headlines all over the world. Now another Chinese sculpture is in the news—but this time the reportage is not so favorable. British-Indian artist Anish Kapoor claims that an unnamed Chinese artist has directly uplifted his work, and is threatening legal action.

Anish’s outdoor artwork, Cloud Gate (nicknamed "The Bean"), sits tall and shiny in Chicago’s Millennium Park, and has attracted thousands of visitors per year since its construction in 2006. Inspired by the form of liquid mercury, Anish’s artwork weighs a whopping 110 tons and, made from stainless steel plates, its surface provides striking reflections of Chicago’s skyline.


A similar sculpture has surfaced online. Erected at the site of the first oil well in Karamay, in the Xinjiang region of China, the metallic mass stands three stories tall. We already know that China has a knack for knock-offs (look no further than their replica cities), but according to Ma Jun, a representative from the local tourism bureau, this sculpture harmlessly represents an oil bubble and possess enough differences to set it apart. “You can’t say we’re not allowed to build a round sculpture because there already is a round one. While we use similar materials, the shapes and meanings are different,” he tells the Wall Street Journal.

The Chinese oil bubble installation, via Chicago Tribune

Kapoor begs to differ, arguing that the Chinese sculpture is an unashamed copy. “It seems that in China today it is permissible to steal the creativity of others. I feel I must take this to the highest level and pursue those responsible in the courts. I hope that the Mayor of Chicago will join me in this action. The Chinese authorities must act to stop this kind of infringement and allow the full enforcement of copyright,” he says in a press statement.


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