Spilling The Bean: Cloud Gate Gets A Twin In China

The oil bubble sculpture in Karamay, China, from the People's Daily Online

The oil bubble sculpture in Karamay, China, from the People’s Daily Online

Millennium Park’s iconic centerpiece sculpture “Cloud Gate” evidently has a twin bean, all the way over in the Chinese town of Karamay, according to the government-run newspaper People’s Daily Online. The oil producing town fittingly refers to its sculpture as a “big oil bubble.”

People’s Daily reports that the stainless steel sculpture is scheduled for official unveiling later this month. The sculpture has been in the works for a couple of years.

Cloud Gate, the Chicago original

Cloud Gate, the Chicago original

Cloud Gate sculptor Anish Kapoor is none too pleased about this apparent copycat bean, calling it “blatant plagiarism.” Kapoor’s representatives indicated the Indian-born artist would seek legal action.  The Wall Street Journal quotes Mr. Kapoor as calling on Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel for his support in the matter.

The Chicago Tribune reports that Mayor Emanuel — ever the politician — isn’t nearly as annoyed as Kapoor, calling it flattering that the folks in China are getting a little taste of Chicago in the Xinjiang region.

It’s unclear whether quinceañera photos are popular among 15-year-old Chinese girls.

The Chinese are well-known for producing everything from counterfeit food to duplicate Apple Stores to entire cities that are copies of famous locations around the world.  In some Asian cultures, copying someone else’s work is considered a means of honoring them.  The Chinese knockoffs, however, rarely have the same quality as the Western originals.  Just last week it was revealed that one of the official songs for the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics is a rip-off of a song from the Disney movie Frozen.

The Journal cites Ma Jun of the Karamay tourism agency defending the sino sculpture: “You can’t say we’re not allowed to build a round sculpture because there already is a round one,” he added. “While we use similar materials, the shapes and meanings are different. ‘Cloud Gate’ intends to reflect the sky, but ours reflects the ground; that’s why we used granite to imitate oil waves (in the area surrounding the sculpture).”

Location: Karamay No.1 Oil Well, Kelamayi DistrictKaramay, China


Author: Bill Motchan

Bill Motchan is a writer and photographer, and a former resident of the West Loop. He can be reached at bill@ChicagoArchitecture.org.

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