Ai Weiwei is an internationally renowned artist and activist, born in Beijing in 1957. Ai's position as a provocateur and dissident artist who has been arrested and come under state surveillance informs the tenor and reception of much of his recent work.
He infuses his sculptures, photographs, and public artworks with political conviction and personal poetry, often making use of recognizable and historic Chinese art forms in critical examinations of a host of contemporary Chinese political and social issues. In his sculptural works, he frequently uses reclaimed materials—ancient pottery and wood from destroyed temples—in a conceptual gesture that connects tradition with contemporary social concerns.
Also a writer and curator, Ai extends his practice across multiple disciplines and through social media to communicate with a global public and to engage fellow artists with projects on a massive scale.
Ai Weiwei attended the Beijing Film Academy and the Parsons School of Design in New York. He has received an honorary doctorate from the Faculty of Politics and Social Science, University of Ghent, Belgium (2010), as well as many awards, including the Skowhegan Medal (2011) and the Chinese Contemporary Art Award (2008).
His work has appeared in major exhibitions at the Hirshhorn Museum (2012); Kunsthaus Bregenz (2011); the Victoria & Albert Museum, London (2011); Asia Society Museum, New York (2011); Tate Modern, London (2010); São Paulo Bienal (2010); Haus der Kunst, Munich (2009); Mori Art Museum, Tokyo (2009); and Documenta XII (2007).
In 2011, ArtReview named Ai the art world's most powerful figure.
PHOTO CREDIT: Gao Yuan, 2010.
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Last Updated: Apr 19, 2013