Ai Weiwei, Jeff Elrod, Joan Mitchell, Thomas Struth et al.
Inaugural Installations: Kinder Building (group show)
The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston
21 November 2020 – 31 December 2021
The Nancy and Rich Kinder Building is dedicated to the Museum’s international collections of modern and contemporary art. The soaring spaces feature displays that span media encompassing painting and sculpture, craft and design, video, and immersive installations. It will open with the first comprehensive installation of these works, drawn from the collections of Latin American and Latino art; photography; prints and drawings; decorative arts, craft, and design; and modern and contemporary art.
These first installations in the Kinder Building are accompanied by eight major site-specific commissioned works that will be inaugurated at the time of the opening. Commissioned artists are El Anatsui, Byung Hoon Choi, Carlos Cruz-Diez, Ólafur Elíasson, Trenton Doyle Hancock, Cristina Iglesias, Jason Salavon, and Ai Weiwei.
Museum of Fine Arts
San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, San Francisco: 4 September 2021 – 17 January 2022
Baltimore Museum of Art, Baltimore: 6 March 2022 – 14 August 2022
This retrospective will explore the full arc of Joan Mitchell’s artistic practice, from her exceptional New York paintings in the early 1950s to the majestic, large-scale multi-panel works made in France later in her career. Co-organized with the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, the exhibition features rarely shown paintings and works on paper from public and private collections in the U.S. and Europe. The exhibition moves through focused suites of work, following Mitchell's cyclical way of working, in which subjects and gestures appear and resurface years later. A selection of projects created with and for writers like Frank O’Hara and Jacques Dupin will underscore the role of poetry in her life and work; others signal themes including her relationships with music and the artists of the 19th century. Additionally, the exhibition will feature transitional works that unfold her process and emphasize the role of Mitchell’s exquisite small paintings, pastels, and works on paper. An accompanying catalog will provide a sweeping scholarly account of the artist’s career.
Baltimore Museum of Art
1000 Years of Joy and Sorrows (Talk)
Royal Festival Hall, Southbank Centre, London
Friday, 29 October, 8.30pm
Join Ai Weiwei for a global exclusive conversation about his widely anticipated memoir 1000 Years of Joys and Sorrows. This book tells a century-long tale of China through the story of his own tumultuous life and that of his father, Ai Qing, the nation’s most celebrated poet. This event will take place at the Southbank Centre’s Royal Festival Hall on Friday, 29 October at 8.30pm.
From his family’s banishment during the Cultural Revolution to the difficult decision to leave them to study art in America, and his subsequent rise from artistic unknown to art world superstar and international human rights activist, Ai discusses an extraordinary life lived under extraordinary circumstances. He also reflects on the myriad forces that have shaped modern China and the urgent need to protect freedom of expression.
Ai Weiwei’s sculptures and installations have been viewed by millions around the globe, and his architectural achievements include helping to design the iconic Bird’s Nest Olympic Stadium in Beijing. His political activism has long made him a target of the Chinese authorities, which culminated in months of secret detention without charge in 2011.
Book your ticket here
In Search of Humanity (solo show)
Albertina Modern, Vienna
16 March – 26 June 2022
The Albertina Modern presents the first comprehensive museum exhibition in Vienna dedicated to Ai Weiwei, an outstanding artistic voice of our time, a ceaseless activist, a proud critic of authoritarian systems and a truthful poet. In Search of Humanity extensively examines the aspect of humanity and artistic responsibility within Ai Weiwei’s oeuvre.
The exhibition highlights concepts such as: surveillance, censorship, human rights, freedom of expression, human displacement, radical responsibility, the power of beauty and the truth of poetry. Guided through these lines of thought the exhibition offers new tools to understand the relevance of Ai Weiwei’s artistic language, which comprises a wide array of art historical paradigms (such as the readymade) alongside more radical activist strategies, all of which are devoted to fathom the extremes of the contemporary human condition on a global scale. An impressive selection of works from the artist’s over three-decade career shall shed a light on Ai Weiwei as a preeminent figure within the contemporary art world.
Intertwine. Pequi Tree, Roots, and Human Figures (solo show)
Serralves Museum, Porto
23 July 2021 – 9 July 2022
At Serralves Ai Weiwei presents a body of work that reflects his interest in the environment and his concerns regarding the deforestation of the Brazilian Atlantic Forest. Ai’s sculptures represent what remains of once green giants and are referents for the present consequences of the rapacious conversion of the natural environment. As we contemplate these roots, we understand the value of forests, the lungs of the world that provide the oxygen we need to breathe. To preserve these rapidly dwindling resources is a critical issue for the future of people on Earth. In the Serralves Park we will see for the first time Pequi Tree, a 32-meter-high iron tree that stands witness to the disappearance of the harmonious co-existence between human beings and nature; moulded in Brazil, cast in China, and now installed in the Park, this work went from wood to metal and from mortal to eternal as a piece of evidence and a monument.
Thomas Struth et al.
Von Erde schöner. The collection of the MGKSiegen (group show)
Museum für Gegenwartskunst Siegen, Siegen
28 May 2021 – 13 February 2022
The new presentation of the museum’s collection, “Von Erde schöner” (Prettier from Earth), continues the dialogue between the Lambrecht-Schadeberg Collection and the Contemporary Art Collection at MGKSiegen which began last year. The title of the exhibition is borrowed from Peter Piller’s photo series of the same name. The winner of the Rubens Promotional Award (2004) has developed his own fields of collection from a firm’s estate comprising 20,000 aerial photographs of German single-family homes. In a similar way, “Von Erde schöner” seeks connecting threads within our own collection, so highlighting a special interest in spatial themes.
The relations between natural and artificial landscapes, the relationships between people, architecture and places, and the construction of pictorial space play a role, as well as questions of distance, proximity and our personal perceptions of space. “Von Erde schöner” undertakes a cartography of the museum’s own collection. Works by Thomas Struth are included.
Rapture (solo show)
Cordoaria Nacional, Lisbon
4 June – 28 November 2021
Ai Weiwei, the contemporary artist and Chinese activist, comes to Portugal for the first time with an unprecedented exhibition: Rapture, to be held at Cordoaria Nacional.
Elected the most popular artist in the world in 2020 by The Art Newspaper, Ai Weiwei is recognized worldwide for his strong political engagement and for connecting art to social and human rights issues.
Curated by the Brazilian Marcello Dantas, the exhibition will present some of the artist's most iconic works, as well as original works produced in Portugal that explore revisited traditional techniques.
Ai Weiwei et al.
Legacies of Exchange: Chinese Contemporary Art from the Yuz Foundation (group show)
Resnick Pavilion, LACMA, Los Angeles
4 July 2021 – 13 March 2022
The Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) presents Legacies of Exchange: Chinese Contemporary Art from the Yuz Foundation. Featuring Ai Weiwei, Huang Yong Ping, Wang Guangyi, Xu Bing, and more, the exhibition brings together 20 works of Chinese contemporary art created by 15 artists in response to international trade, political conflict, and global artistic exchange. Drawn from Yuz Foundation’s esteemed collection of contemporary art, Legacies of Exchange spotlights encounters, exchanges, and collisions between China and the West. This exhibition is part of LACMA’s ongoing collaboration with Yuz Museum in Shanghai, China and Qatar Museums in Doha, a joint effort to create exhibitions and to provide the museums with greater access to a more diverse collection of artworks.
1000 Years of Joys and Sorrows. A Memoir (publication)
In his widely anticipated memoir, Ai Weiwei tells a century-long epic tale of China through the story of his own extraordinary life and the legacy of his father, Ai Qing, the nation’s most celebrated poet. At once ambitious and intimate, 1000 Years of Joys and Sorrows offers a deep understanding of the myriad forces that have shaped modern China, and serves as a timely reminder of the urgent need to protect freedom of expression.
Pre-Order it here.
Archive Matrix Assembly: The Photography of Thomas Struth 1978–2018 (publication)
Archive Matrix Assembly: The Photography of Thomas Struth 1978–2018 presents the first comprehensive, systematic theory of Thomas Struth’s main body of photographic work from its beginnings in the late 1970s until his most recent work in 2018. The book presents a unique, evolutionary understanding of the work, proposing that it has established three stages of production: archive, matrix, and assembly. Together the three stages form a developmental system that characterizes the individual photographs, their relation to their subject matter, and how they form larger, significant collections of images. The book project accomplishes three main goals: it develops a comprehensive critical reading of the work, it serves as a monograph of the artist, and it provides an extensive analysis of the photographs at all stages, including the less discussed, more recent photography, which is placed on par with the earlier work for which Struth first became internationally renowned.
Order a copy here.
Coronation (2020) (film)
“Coronation” (2020) is a documentary film about the lockdown in Wuhan, China, during the Covid-19 outbreak in the spring of 2020.
On December 31, 2019, the first novel coronavirus case was confirmed in Wuhan. Chinese officials repeatedly denied that human-to-human transmission was possible, concealed the number of diagnosed patients, and punished medical staff for disclosing information about the epidemic. On January 23, 2019, Wuhan was placed under a city-wide lockdown. Covid-19 has become a global pandemic, with over 17 million people infected and over 670,000 deaths.
“Coronation” examines the political specter of Chinese state control from the first to the last day of the Wuhan lockdown. The film records the state’s brutally efficient, militarized response to control the virus. Sprawling emergency field hospitals were erected in a matter of days, 40,000 medical workers were bused in from all over China, and the city’s residents were sealed into their homes.
The film takes us into the heart of these temporary hospitals and ICU wards, showing the entire process of diagnosis and treatment. Patients and their families are interviewed, reflecting their thinking about the pandemic and expressing anger and confusion over the states’ callous restriction of their liberties. The film also takes us into the private lives of individuals living under the lockdown: a couple attempt to return to their home in Wuhan, a courier delivers essentials to residents barred from leaving their community, an emergency construction worker stuck in limbo and forced to live out of his car, a former party cadre and her son debate the function of the media and the party’s response to the outbreak, a grieving son navigates the bureaucracy of retrieving his father's ashes.
China has assumed the status of superpower on the global stage, yet it remains poorly understood by other nations. Through the lens of the pandemic, “Coronation” clearly depicts the Chinese crisis management and social control machine—through surveillance, ideological brainwashing, and brute determination to control every aspect of society. The film shows the changes that took place in a city and in individual space under the impact of the virus; it illustrates the value of individual life in the political environment, reflecting on the difficulties we face as individuals and countries in the context of globalization. Ultimately, the result is a society lacking trust, transparency, and respect for humanity. Despite the impressive scale and speed of the Wuhan lockdown, we face a more existential question: can civilization survive without humanity? Can nations rely on one another without transparency or trust?
Ai Weiwei directed, produced, and completed post-production remotely in Europe. The filming was done by ordinary citizens living in Wuhan.
Ai Weiwei Films