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Zhang Huan’s Hulking Buddha Goes to San Francisco

Chinese artist Zhang Huan has never had any problem generating ideas for enormous works of art. Past shows at PaceWildenstein have displayed drawings of elaborate landscapes in huge piles of ash and constructed a 32-foot-long sleeping giant out of cowskin, steel, wood, and foam. For a new public-art project in San Francisco, though, the artist has dreamed an even larger and sturdier sculpture into existence. On May 12, the city will unveil his 2008 copper sculpture of Buddha, Three Heads Six Arms, in its Joseph L. Alioto Performing Arts Piazza, just across from city hall, in honor of the 30th Anniversary of the San Francisco Arts Commission. It is the largest work that the artist has yet made, and weighs in at an astounding 15 tons and stands nearly 26 feet tall at its highest point. Zhang, who is currently based in Shanghai, reportedly hand-picked the city to display his sculpture. “We are honored to have an artist of Zhang Huan’s stature participate in the Shanghai Sister City Celebration,” mayor Gavin Newsom declared in a statement. (The two cities have been sister cities since 1979.) “We anticipate that locals and tourists alike will flock to the Civic Center to experience the grandeur of this masterpiece firsthand.”
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