He Xiangyu’s life-sized tank – Entirely made of Italian leather

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He Xiangyu - Tank

He Xiangyu – Tank Project, 2011-2013, installation view, leather, 890 x 600 x 150 cm, White Cube Bermondsey, London, 2014, photo: Ben Westoby

Published: November 7, 2016

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About He Xiangyu’s tank

He Xiangyu’s Tank project commenced in late 2011 and was completed in early 2013. The sculpture is a prototype of the tank, specifically a T341, based on one that was found near a regimen positioned between North Korea and China. The T34 model was used as China’s armed forces principal tank, and furthermore was the same model that was used during specific infamous incidents in China’s recent history.

Four months of preparation

In order to complete the measurements, He Xiangyu had to coordinate a team to approach the tank during the night to measure parts of the tank by hand as large-scale measuring tools were unavailable. Determining the measurements took four months. The plans based on these dimensions were detailed and painstakingly thorough, so thorough that Xiangyu could reproduce an actual tank.

How the tank was created

The artist used high-grade vegetable tanned leather as his main material for his tank, creating the “outer-coat” by using the dimensions and proportions from the measurements scaled with a very insignificant magnification. Xiangyu together with 35 workers, completed the Tank Project in about two years, using over 250 full-scale leather hides and 50,000 meters of wax string. The finished piece weighs over 4000 pounds. Xiangyu‘s Tank Project also includes relating diagrams and videos.

He Xiangyu (何翔宇) - Tank Project, 2011-2013, sketch

He Xiangyu – Sketch for the Tank Project, 2011-2013

He Xiangyu – Sketch for the Tank Project, 2011-2013, sketch

He Xiangyu – Sketch for the Tank Project, 2011-2013

Video: Installating ‘The Tank Project’

1 min

About He Xiangyu (何翔宇)

He Xiangyu was born in 1986 in Kuandian, China. In 2008, Xiangyu graduated from Shenyang Normal University with a bachelor’s degree in art, where he studied oil painting. His work has been featured in a number of group exhibitions around the world. He Xiangyu’s works have been in collections such as Kunstmuseum Bern, Bern, Switzerland; White Rabbit Gallery, Sydney, Australia; Domus Collection, USA; Pinault Collection, France; Long Museum, Shanghai, China; Boros Collection, Berlin, Germany; Mercator Foundation, Essen, Germany; Artron Art Museum, Shenzhen, China; Sishang Museum, Beijing, China.

He Xiangyu (何翔宇) portrait

Portrait of He Xiangyu

Detail photos

Detail of He Xiangyu’s Tank Project, 2011-2013, leather, 890 x 600 x 150 cm

Detail of He Xiangyu – Tank Project, 2011-2013, leather, 890 x 600 x 150 cm

Detail of He Xiangyu’s Tank Project, 2011-2013, leather, 890 x 600 x 150 cm

Detail of He Xiangyu – Tank Project, 2011-2013, leather, 890 x 600 x 150 cm

Detail of He Xiangyu’s Tank Project, 2011-2013, leather, 890 x 600 x 150 cm

All images by He Xiangyu unless otherwise noted.

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<54>Related readings

  1. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/T-34
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