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Ai Weiwei

Everything is art. Everything is politics (solo show)
K20 / K21, Kunstsammlung NRW, Düsseldorf
18 May - 1 September 2019

Ai Weiwei, 2019. Image courtesy of Ai Weiwei Studio.
Ai Weiwei, 2019. Image courtesy of Ai Weiwei Studio.

"Everything is art. Everything is politics": with these words, the internationally acclaimed contemporary artist Ai Weiwei encapsulates the basic principle of his working approach. This motto is also the leitmotif of his largest exhibition in Europe to date, which will be on view simultaneously at the K20 and the K21 of the Kunstsammlung Nordrhein-Westfalen.

Large-scale works and extensive image wallpaper transform the museum galleries into dense, accessible installations. The close interlocking of political engagement with artistic activity in the oeuvre of this important and disputatious artist allows the contradictions of the present day to become tangible.

Ai Weiwei, who was born in Beijing in 1957, is celebrated worldwide as an artist, architect, curator, film director and photographer. Impressions of Conceptual and Pop Art gathered during his time in New York during the 1980s proved fruitful for his working methods, which aim toward a critical examination of cultural history and developments in global society.

Kunstsammlung NRW, Düsseldorf


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Ai Weiwei

Ai Weiwei: Bare Life (solo show)
Mildred Lane Kemper Art Museum, Washington University, St. Louis
28 September 2019 - 5 January 2020

Ai Weiwei, Tear Gas Canisters, 2016. Courtesy of Ai Weiwei Studio
Ai Weiwei, Tear Gas Canisters, 2016. Courtesy of Ai Weiwei Studio

This fall the newly expanded and renovated Mildred Lane Kemper Art Museum will reopen with a major exhibition of work by Ai Weiwei. The renowned Chinese dissident artist and activist is internationally known for rigorous, compassionate, and complex artworks that address themes of political, ethical, and social urgency. Designed by the artist and curated by Sabine Eckmann, William T. Kemper Director and Chief Curator, Ai Weiwei: Bare Life will be on view from September 28, 2019, through January 5, 2020.

The exhibition will feature more than 35 artworks created over the last two decades in a wide variety of mediums—among them sculptures, installations, photographs, and films. A selection of newly conceived large-scale and site-specific projects will be placed in dialogue with some of Ai’s most iconic works and several major artworks never before exhibited in the United States. Together, these objects provide new insight into Ai’s abiding concern for human rights and the global condition of humanity while showcasing his profound engagement with Chinese culture past and present—especially the radical shifts that have characterized China in the new millennium.

Ai Weiwei: Bare Life, which is organized into two thematic sections, takes its title from the writings of the Italian philosopher Giorgio Agamben, who has long examined the notion of bare, unprotected life and its manifestations throughout human history. In recent years, Agamben’s ideas have gained new force as approximately 70 million people have been displaced from their homelands and deprived of basic human rights.

Mildred Lane Kemper Art Museum, Washington University, St. Louis


Ai Weiwei

Unbroken (solo show)
Gardiner Museum, Toronto
28 February - 9 June 2019

Ai Weiwei, Zodiac, 2018 © Studio Ai Weiwei
Ai Weiwei, Zodiac, 2018 © Studio Ai Weiwei

Ai Weiwei is one of the world’s most influential artists and human rights activists, as well as one of China’s most formidable critics. Known for smashing conventions—and ceramics—with iconic works like Dropping a Han Dynasty Urn, he upends the cultural traditions and materials of his native China.

This highly-anticipated and timely exhibition explores the breaking of boundaries, both physical and symbolic, and considers how the artist’s ceramic works form a basis for his ongoing exploration of urgent social justice themes, including immigration, freedom of speech, and the repression of dissent.

Ai Weiwei: Unbroken features iconic works, including Sunflower Seeds and Coca Cola Vase, as well as recent works in blue-and-white porcelain that depict the global refugee crisis. The exhibition also marks the international debut of a new large-scale LEGO series representing the Chinese zodiac.

Gardiner Museum, Toronto


Ai Weiwei

CHINESE WHISPERS: Recent Art from the Sigg Collection (group show)
MAK, Vienna
30 January - 26 May 2019

Ai Weiwei, Descending Light With a Missing Circle, 2017 © Studio Ai Weiwei
Ai Weiwei, Descending Light With a Missing Circle, 2017 © Studio Ai Weiwei

With CHINESE WHISPERS: Recent Art from the Sigg Collection a comprehensive exhibition on Chinese contemporary art is coming to Vienna. Uli Sigg has been following the development of contemporary art in China since the late 1970s. In the mid-1990s, he started putting together the world’s most significant and representative collection of Chinese art. A business journalist, entrepreneur, and Swiss ambassador to China, North Korea, and Mongolia (1995–1998), he had the chance to take a look behind the scenes of the social and economic developments dedicated to both tradition and the future, as China’s vision of a new Silk Road shows. Cultural and sociopolitical values form the frame of reference of the MAK exhibition. The museum creates a discursive platform by contrasting works from the Sigg Collection with objects from the MAK Collection. This interplay highlights China’s contemporary art production as well as its aesthetic or iconographic references. The historical object becomes a vision machine for the contemporary.

MAK, Vienna