24 x 65 cm
This photograph is composed of two images: on the left is the studio of Chinese contemporary artist Ai Weiwei, and on the right is the land where his studio once stood. Weiwei’s studio, which he designed and built, was demolished in January of 2011 after government authorities deemed it illegal based on building permits and rules. The same government officials who had originally proposed the idea of a studio space to Weiwei were the ones to order its destruction two years later, revealing the political motivation behind the decision.
Topping the 2011 ArtReview Power 100 list, contemporary artist Ai Weiwei (b.1957) is known for his breathtaking works in sculpture, installation, photography, film, and architecture that have drawn as much attention as his political activism. Born in Beijing, Weiwei enrolled in the Beijing Film Academy in 1978, that same year he co-founded an avant garde art group, “Stars”, which put on regular group shows throughout China. Weiwei lived and worked in the United States for a period of time in the late 1980s and early 1990s, studying at Parsons School of Design and the Art Students League of New York in New York City. Upon his return to China, Weiwei brought together a group of experimental artists, Beijing East Village, and later co-founded the experimental art gallery and facilitator, China Art Archives and Warehouse in 1997. Weiwei’s work consists mostly of sculpture and installation, using new techniques and found objects that often speak out against the Chinese Government. For example, Weiwei commented on famine and mass consumption in China with ‘Sunflower Seeds’, which consisted of one hundred million, hand-painted, porcelain seeds that was installed at the Tate Modern’s Turbine Hall, London, England, in 2010. Weiwei’s work led him also to architecture and in 2003 he founded the architecture studio FAKE Design. He was an artistic consultant on the Beijing National Stadium for the 2008 Olympics. Ever a controversial figure, Weiwei was arrested earlier this year and held in prison for almost three months without any official charge. His arrest attracted worldwide attention and instigated mass protests, including a petition with over 90,000 signatures calling for his release organized by The Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation and the International Council of Museums.
Ai Weiwie’s work has been displayed prominently throughout the world, with recent solo exhibitions and installations including ‘Ai Weiwei: Dropping the Urn,’ Victoria & Albert Museum, London, UK (2011); ‘Ai Weiwei: New York Photographs 1983-1993,’ Asia Society, New York, NY (2011); ‘Ai Weiwei: Circle of Animals,’ Somerset House, London, UK, Pulitzer Fountain, Central Park, New York, NY, and Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Los Angeles, CA (2011); ‘Ai Weiwei: Barely Something,’ Museum DKM, Duisburg, Germany (2010); ‘Ai Weiwei: According to What?’ Mori Art Museum, Tokyo, Japan (2009); and ‘Under Construction,’ Sherman Contemporary Art Foundation, Cambelltown Arts Center, Sydney, Australia, and Mary Boone Gallery, New York, NY (2008).
Selected Public Collections:
Goetz Collection, Munich, Germany
Hara Museum of Contemporary Art, Tokyo, Japan
Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Los Angeles, CA
Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, CA
Museum für Moderne Kunst, Frankfurt, Germany
Saatchi Collection, London, England
Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, NY
Tate, London, England
Ullens Center for Contemporary Art, Beijing, China
24 x 65 cm