Home Art Head On an art installation by Cai Guo-Qiang.

Head On an art installation by Cai Guo-Qiang.

by Andreas Rekopoulos
Head On by Cai Guo-Qiang

Cai Guo-Qiang’s Head On art installation, permanently on display at the Deutsche Guggenheim, consists of 99 life-sized wolves flying into a glass wall.

The wolves were produced in Quanzhou, China, the hometown of Qiang,  from January to June of 2006. Quanzhou’s craftsmen specialize in manufacturing remarkable, life-sized replicas of animals. They made the life-like wolves from painted sheepskins stuffed with hay and metal wires and they used  plastic lending contour to their faces and marbles for eyes.

Created for the artist’s solo exhibition at the Deutsche Guggenheim in Berlin the installation’s purpose was  to address social and political issues imminent to German history. Since the museum was in Berlin the artist wanted to deal with many issues that occurred in the city. German Reich, Adolf Hitler, the building and the removal of  the Wall were  few of the issues in its rich history that inspired Qiang.

The wolves form a spiral, like a hurricane took them away and fall violently on the glass wall. Head On intrinsically comments on the foolishness of collective mentality, which leads people to disaster like a pack of wild animals. Another, symbolic this time, concept of the installation is to stress human flaws, which eventually cause the “falling” or the “conflict”. A conflict on a glass wall of invisible powers, our boundaries, our morality or our prejudices .

What is left behind was a sense of tragedy, loss and helplessness. Otherwise according to Cai Guo-Qiang’s opinion it is human fate to repeat their mistakes.

Cai Guo-Qiang was born in 1957 in Quanzhou, China and he is one of the pioneers in the field of contemporary art. He was selected as a finalist for the 1996 Hugo Boss Prize and won the 48th Venice Biennale International Golden Lion Prize and 2001 CalArts/Alpert Award in the Arts. In 2008, he was subject to a large-scale mid-career retrospective, I Want To Believe, at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York, which eventually traveled to the National Art Museum of China in Beijing and the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao. He also gained widespread attention as the Director of Visual and Special Effects for the opening and closing ceremonies of the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing.

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A. C. K. 11/02/2021 - 12:31

The hunting style depicted in ‘Head On’ is not the way a wolf pack hunts. The choice of animals and the misrepresentation of their natural instincts and habits directly invalidates the ‘message’ the creator is trying to convey.

no 08/11/2022 - 20:29

I don’t think the artwork is supposed to reflect any actual animal instincts dude… This is art, not biology.

Rick Hobson 21/08/2022 - 19:08

The stereotypical use of wolves in this art installation defeats it’s purpose. Yes, it’s powerful and dynamic, but to me it represents the separation of humans from the rest of the natural world and that worlds destruction at our hands.


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