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(image by Hrag Vartanian/Hyperallergic)

Yesterday we noticed that a copy of Anish Kapoor’s “Cloud Gate” in Chicago is in the works in Karamay, China, promoted as a giant, stainless steel drop of oil. The artist is still unknown, but it’s definitely not Kapoor, who was “shocked at the blatant plagiarism” of his work when news of the Cloud Gate-gate reached him in London.

“It seems that in China today it is permissible to steal the creativity of others,” Kapoor said in a statement sent to Hyperallergic. “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.”

The offending sculpture, which circulated on Chinese news agencies with no mention of Kapoor’s name (screenshot via @PDChina/Twitter) (click to enlarge)

According to Wall Street Journal‘s blog China Real Time, the planning and construction management section chief of Karamay’s Tourism Bureau, Ma Jun, refused to name the copycat behind the oil bubble sculpture, revealing only that he or she is Chinese. While he had reportedly heard of Kapoor’s world-famous work, Ma noted that the similarities were simply coincidences and attempted to ward off accusations of plagiarism with unconvincing (but hilarious!) reasoning.

“The idea of the oil bubble comes from the Black Oil Mountain, which is a natural oil well in Karamay,” Ma told China Real Time. “People can enter the big bubble to visit and hold activities. There are some small bubbles around to make it more fun.

“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).”

Unless Kapoor successfully manages to have it removed, the sculpture is set to open to the public at the end of August. If it remains, we look forward to the day a replica of a Carsten Höller slide is wrapped around it to truly make the bubble a center for fun.

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Claire Voon

Claire Voon is a former staff writer for Hyperallergic. Originally from Singapore, she grew up near Washington, D.C. and is now based in Chicago. Her work has also appeared in New York Magazine, VICE,...

3 replies on “Anish Kapoor Threatens to Sue Over Chinese “Cloud Gate” Copy”

  1. They should have learned the lesson from Shepherd Fairey, Damien Hirst and Richard Prince. Always steal from people far less wealthy and successful than yourself.

      1. How can he when literally everything he has done has been appropriating or outright stealing someone else’s work?

        I’ve said it before and I will say it again. He started his career punching up at corporate and commercial imagery. He is ending it by punching down at any and everyone with less money and influence then him. Richard Prince is truly a terrible person.

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