China has had a speckled history of “copy-catting” other cities i.e. the Eiffel Tower, The Great Sphinx, The Sydney Opera House, The U.S. Capitol aaaand you get the picture. And this time around….they struck again with their version of *gulp* THE BEAN.
The stainless steel sculpture is slated to open at the end of August in the Xinjiang region, according to the online version of the state-run People’s Daily this past Monday.
According to the People’s Daily, the piece has been under construction since 2013 at the site of the first oil well in the western Chinese city of Karamay. The exact headline said the sculpture was made in the shape of a “big oil bubble.”
The story was accompanied by photos showing something that would certainly make our Bean cooler – which was a grid of LED lights on the ground beneath the sculpture. The blue and green reflections bounced off the underbelly of the “big oil bubble” with a caption revering the “gorgeous light effect.”
And as you can imagine, people drew their guns out in both Chicago and China.
“It’s definitely a rip-off,” said executive director of the Millennium Park Foundation, Edward Uhlir who runs the nonprofit that supports the park. “We’ve had lots of Chinese visitors coming to Millennium Park. Somebody probably took a photograph and took it home and said, ‘Make me one of those.’ ”
The Bean is just a nickname due to its jelly bean like qualities – while the sculpture’s real name is “Cloud Gate”. It was created by a London-based, Mumbai, India-born artist named Anish Kapoor. It opened for viewing when the park opened in 2004 and quickly became iconic thanks to its captivating reflections of both the people and the city of Chicago.
The Associated Press commented that representatives of Kapoor said he was stunned by the “blatant plagiarism” of his thirty-three foot high, 110 tons sculpture.
On Wednesday, Kapoor said in a statement that he wants to sue those responsible for the Chinese sculpture, adding: “The Chinese authorities must act to stop this kind of infringement.”
The Chair of the Millennium Park Foundation, Donna La Pietra, chimed in saying she was not at all taken aback by Kapoor’s reaction.
“If you want him, hire him,” La Pietra said.
Mayor Rahm Emanuel was asked whether he would join in a lawsuit with the artist, who has not been identified.
“Imitation is the greatest form of flattery” is what I would say,” Emanuel said. “And if you want to see original artwork … like The Bean, you come to Chicago.”
You can decide for yourself, here if the copy is infringing on the original.