artists & participants
A major international exhibition featuring two of the most significant artists of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries—Andy Warhol and Ai Weiwei—will open at the National Gallery of Victoria (NGV), Melbourne, in December 2015, and The Andy Warhol Museum, Pittsburgh, in June 2016.
Andy Warhol | Ai Weiwei, developed by the NGV and The Warhol, with the participation of Ai Weiwei, will explore the significant influence of these two exemplary artists on modern art and contemporary life, focussing on the parallels and intersections between the two artists' practices. Surveying the scope of both artists' careers, the exhibition at the NGV will present over 300 works, including major new commissions, immersive installations and a wide representation of paintings, sculpture, film, photography, publishing and social media.
Andy Warhol was a leading protagonist in the development of Pop Art and created some of the most defining iconography of the late twentieth century, through his exploration of consumer society, fame and celebrity, death and disaster, politics and capital. The NGV will present over 200 of Warhol's most celebrated works including portraits, paintings and silkscreens; sculpture and installation; films, music and publishing; early drawings and commercial illustrations; and previously unseen work. The exhibition will also bring together more than 500 Polaroids documenting Warhol's friends, colleagues, and artistic and social milieux.
Ai Weiwei is among the most renowned contemporary artists practicing today. One of China's most provocative artists, his work encompasses diverse fields including visual art, architecture, publishing and curatorial practice, cultural criticism, social media and activism. Ai Weiwei's work addresses some of the most critical global issues of the early twenty-first century, including the relationship between tradition and modernity, the role of the individual and the state, questions of human rights, and the value of freedom of expression.
The exhibition will explore modern and contemporary art, life and cultural politics through the activities of these two key figures. Ai Weiwei lived in the United States from 1981 until 1993, where he encountered the work of Marcel Duchamp, Andy Warhol and Jasper Johns, among others. The Philosophy of Andy Warhol (From A to B & Back Again) was the first book that Ai Weiwei purchased in New York, and Warhol’s life and work has had a significant influence upon his conceptual approach.
Parallels exist in the unique ways in which each artist has transformed the understanding of artistic value and studio production. Both artists have also been critical in redefining the role of "the artist"—as impresario, cultural producer, activist and brand—and both are known for their keen observation of contemporary society and everyday life.
Ai Weiwei commented, "I believe this is a very interesting and important exhibition and an honour for me to have the opportunity to be exhibited alongside Andy Warhol. This is a great privilege for me as an artist."
For the NGV exhibition, a suite of major commissions by Ai Weiwei will be premiered, including a new installation from the "Forever bicycles" series and a new monumental work from his chandelier series, among others. These will be presented alongside key works from the past four decades and new and recent installations, including fresh configurations of major works such as S.A.C.R.E.D. (2013) and Trace (2014), alongside a wide range of photography, film and social media, presenting the most comprehensive representation of the artist’s work in Australia to date. The exhibition will offer visitors the chance to consider the contributions of both artists, each of whom is as famous for his artistic persona as for the work he produced.
As part of the exhibition a large-scale installation will be developed especially for children and families which explores both artists' love of cats.
The exhibition will be accompanied by a suite of four publications: a deluxe collectors' book in a presentation case, including an original limited-edition print by Ai Weiwei; a hardback edition; a paperback volume; and, a children’s art book about the artists.
The Andy Warhol Museum, Pittsburgh, June 4–August 28, 2016