Archive: Ai Weiwei
The million-dollar broken vase – Ai Weiwei

The million-dollar broken vase – Ai Weiwei

Ai Weiwei - Dropping a Han Dynasty Urn, 1995, Second panel of the triptych

Ai Weiwei - Dropping a Han Dynasty Urn, 1995
Ai WeiweiDropping a Han Dynasty Urn, 1995

The return of Ai Weiwei to China after living in New York City for more than a decade marked the beginning of a new form of art. No one knew all long he was thinking about the themes of transformation and destruction. He embarked on collecting ancient vessels with the aim of converting them into contemporary art pieces. Some people viewed this act as a way of collaborating with the ancient artists’ work, but some argued that it was misappropriating the artists’ work without their approval. This act provoked emotions since the urns were considered a form of consumer culture and heritage preservation, especially since he dropped it intentionally.

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Is this a clever artwork or simply ignorant vandalism?

Is this a clever artwork or simply ignorant vandalism?

Ai Weiwei, Coloured Vases, 2006
Ai WeiweiColoured Vases, 2006

Exhibition visitors have expressed feelings of uneasiness or even pain and nostalgia when seeing Coloured Vases by Ai Weiwei. The 51 vases that make up the artwork are originally treasures from the Neolithic Age (5000–3000 BCE) and the artist has dunked them in common industrial paint, commenting on the devastation caused by the Chinese cultural revolution and the disregard for centuries-old craftsmanship. By covering the surfaces, the history of the vases is no longer visible, but still there, beneath the dried layer of industrial color. Some viewers have felt provoked by this audacious act, in their eyes destroying something rare and precious, instead of safeguarding and worshipping it.

Like with many other works by Ai Weiwei, he uses irony to challenge viewers’ assumptions and perspectives. As China’s most notorious artist, he finds himself in constant confrontation with the Chinese authorities, and Coloured Vases is an essential piece in his rebellious oeuvre.

Ai Weiwei, coloured Vases, 2006, Neolithic vases (5000-3000 BC), industrial paint, 51 pieces, dimensions variable
Ai WeiweiColoured Vases, 2006, Neolithic vases (5000-3000 BC), industrial paint, 51 pieces, dimensions variable

Ai Weiwei, Coloured Vases, 2006
Ai WeiweiColoured Vases, 2006

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Ai Weiwei flips off whole world

Ai Weiwei flips off whole world

Ai Weiwei - Study of Perspective – Tiananmen“, 1995-2010, C-Print, 32,5 x 43,5 cm
Ai WeiweiStudy of Perspective, Tiananmen, 1995-2010, C-Print, 32,5×43,5cm

Ai Weiwei is a Chinese artist and activist whose activism comes out in his artwork. He has been vocal and openly critical of the Chinese government’s stance on democracy and human rights. His work has captured global attention and served to bring attention to social injustices, human rights violations, and systemic violence.

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2,000 year old Chinese vases after being dipped in paint

2,000 year old Chinese vases after being dipped in paint

Ai Weiwei - Han Dynasty Vases in Auto Paint, 2014, Photo Sotheby's
Ai WeiweiHan Dynasty Vases in Auto Paint, 2014, Han Dynasty vases (202 BC to 220 AD) and auto paint, dimensions variable
Photo: Sotheby's

The Han Dynasty Vases with Auto-Paint is a work shown as part of Ai Weiwei’s solo exhibition “Evidence”. It is a series of neolithic vases, painted smooth and shining with brightly colored automotive paint. The aged vessels are given new context, evoking the mass marketing and luxurious consumerist appeal of the goods typically adorned with this type of paint, that are highly coveted in China. By destroying their historical value, he creates a highly politicized satire that calls into question the nature of art.

About Ai Weiwei

Born in 1957, Beijing, Ai Weiwei began his training at Beijing Film Academy and later continued at the Parsons School of Design in New York City. He was instrumental in the founding of the Overseas Chinese Artists Foundation as well as laying the groundwork for experimental artists in the East Village. His work has been displayed all over the world in Australia, Belgium, China, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Korea and the United States and recently has been commissioned by the Tate Modern. Later his name would become famous with projects such as the Bird’s Nest, the Olympic Stadium for the 2008 Beijing Summer Games. His role as an activist deepened, with his infamous probe of the 2008 Sichuan earthquake student deaths and the following closing of his blog.

Ai Weiwei - Han Dynasty Vases in Auto Paint, 2014, Palazzo Strozzi, Italy
Ai WeiweiHan Dynasty Vases in Auto Paint, 2014, Han Dynasty vases (202 BC to 220 AD) and auto paint, dimensions variable, at Palazzo Strozzi, Italy

Ai Weiwei - Han Dynasty Vases in Auto Paint, 2014, Photo Sotheby's
Ai WeiweiHan Dynasty Vases in Auto Paint, 2014, Han Dynasty vases (202 BC to 220 AD) and auto paint, dimensions variable
Photo: Sotheby's

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What is Ai Weiwei doing with 9000 children’s backpacks?

What is Ai Weiwei doing with 9000 children’s backpacks?

Ai Weiwei - Remembering, 2009
Ai WeiweiRemembering, 2009, 100x1000cm, Haus der Kunst, München (Germany)

ABOUT REMEBERING

In 2009, Ai Weiwei created a large 10x100m installation, made out of 9000 children’s backpacks. Displayed on the facade of the Haus der Kunst in Munich, Germany, each backpack represents a life lost in the earthquake that took place in the Chinese province of Sichuan in 2008.

Ai used five different colors that make up the sentence For seven years she lived happily on this earth in Chinese lettering, a sentence with which a mother of one of the earthquake victims commemorated her daughter. The bright, vibrant colors, such as blue, red, yellow and green reflect the psyche of a child, their joy and innocence. In addition, the colors have been used for the Toys R Us logo.

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Uncomfortable: These two couches are made from marble

Uncomfortable: These two couches are made from marble

ai-weiwei-art-in-the-city-sofa-in-white-zuerich-2012-1

Ai Weiwei - Sofa in White, 2011, Zürich
Ai WeiweiSofa in White, 2011, Zürich

It looks like somebody has misplaced two couches right in the center of Zürich, but curious passers looking for a rest will be surprised, the furniture feels hard and cold and doesn’t deliver the expected comfort. The Sofa in White are two artworks made out of marble, created by Chinese artist Ai Weiwei (1957).

For Art and the City, the largest outdoor exhibition of Switzerland, he placed The Sofa in White right in the financial district. The artworks look like a certain model of 1970s furniture, sold in millions especially to the Chinese middle class and turned into an icon of a generation, representing achievable modest wealth and comfort. Weiwei’s couches are handmade by Chinese craftsman using expensive marble, each piece is 1.020 kg heavy. They are currently in front of Credit Suisse, with UBS one of the two big banks that are situated at the Paradeplatz since the end of the 19th Century. This place is one of the world’s most expensive locations and became well known through international tv as almost every report about Swiss banks shows the Paradeplatz. Now it embodies the cliche of Swiss banks like no other and stands for money and gold, bank secrecy and money laundering and for bonuses and financial crisis. The seatings are a symbol for globalization, a source of major profits for the Credit Suisse.

Ai Weiwei’s The Sofa in White and other artworks are on display in the city space until September 23rd.

Art and the City takes place in Zürich right now and shows 40 works by artists like Doug Aitken, Paul McCarthy and others. The public art project coincides with the Venice Biennale and Kassel’s documenta, roughly located between their two venues.

Ai Weiwei - Sofa in White, 2011, Zürich
Ai WeiweiSofa in White, 2011, Zürich

Ai Weiwei - Sofa in White, 2011, Zürich
Ai WeiweiSofa in White, 2011, Zürich

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Ai Weiwei explains his famous Sunflower Seeds

Ai Weiwei explains his famous Sunflower Seeds

Ai Weiwei, Sunflower Seeds, Tate Modern, London
Ai Weiwei, Sunflower Seeds, hand-painted porcelain, at Tate Modern, London

Insight in the background and production process of one of the most spectacular exhibitions of 2010, Sunflower Seeds by Ai Weiwei at Tate Modern. Follow Ai Weiwei to the city of Jingdezhen in northern Jiangxi, China, famed for its production of Imperial porcelain, where all of the sunflower seeds have been individually hand-sculpted and hand-painted.

Additionally, you can see Sunflower Seeds at Mary Boone Gallery right now. The exhibition opened on January 7 and is on view until February 4. Below are a few installation shots. The installation is made out of millions (five tons) of hand-painted porcelain sunflower seeds. Each actual-size seed is unique and intricately hand-formed and like those shown at Tate Modern painted in Jingdezhen.

The sunflower, following the sun, is a well-known metaphor for The People during China’s Cultural Revolution. The seeds provided nourishment at all levels of society, and the ubiquitous discarded husks provided evidence of an individual’s existence. Ai Weiwei created a deceptively unified field with a large number of individual seeds. Sunflower Seeds comments on social, political and economical issues relevant to contemporary China such as the role of the individual in relationship to the collective.

Ai Weiwei, Sunflower Seeds, Tate Modern, London
Ai Weiwei, Sunflower Seeds, hand-painted porcelain, at Tate Modern, London, photo by Mike Kemp, In Pictures, Corbis

Ai Weiwei, Sunflower Seeds, Tate Modern, London
Ai Weiwei, Sunflower Seeds, hand-painted porcelain, at Tate Modern, London

Ai Weiwei, Sunflower Seeds, Tate Modern
Ai Weiwei, Sunflower Seeds, hand-painted porcelain, at Tate Modern, London

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