Imitation may be the sincerest form of flattery, but a new sculpture in China is under fire for what could be construed as blatant plagiarism of Chicago’s famed Bean in Millennium Park. The sculpture, titled “Big Oil Bubble,” has been under construction since 2013 in Karamay, Xinjiang, designed to commemorate the site of the city’s first oil well.
The Chicago Tribune reports that Anish Kapoor, the creator of Chicago’s Bean (formally titled “Cloud Gate”), has threatened to sue for “blatant plagiarism” of his work. Though the Chinese version of the bean does have some unique aspects, such as smaller, surrounding “oil drops,” as well as a hallow area in the center where viewers can walk underneath and be blinded by a flashing LED red and blue light show.
Chicagoans and fans of the Bean alike have expressed bemusement and some annoyance at the creative copy-catting.
“It seems that in China today it is permissible to steal the creativity of others,” Kapoor said to the Wall Street Journal. “I feel I must take this to the highest level and and pursue those responsible in courts. I hope that the Mayor of Chicago will join me in this action.”
While some writers in China have also criticized the lookalike sculpture, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel told the Tribune, “‘Imitation is the greatest form of flattery’ is what I would say. And if you want to see original artwork… like The Bean, you come to Chicago.”
Marielle Mondon is an editor and freelance journalist in Philadelphia. Her work has appeared in Philadelphia City Paper, Wild Magazine, and PolicyMic. She previously reported on communities in Northern Manhattan while earning an M.S. in journalism from Columbia University.