What truly marks out Ai as a twenty-first century artist is the multiplicity of his roles: not just artist, designer and architect but also curator, publisher, web blogger and compass for an entire generation of Beijing artists. He has been described more than once as the Chinese Warhol, overseeing a factory-like studio (Fake) with dozens of assistants engaged in countless projects in a range of disciplines. And indeed his outsize public persona is an inseparable part of his art. It should come as no surprise that when Herzog & de Meuron came to Beijing to conceive of a new stadium for the 2008 Olympics, Ai was the one who provided them with a design concept: an interlaced form based on the woven baskets his wife collects at local antique markets.
At a time when the West is finally discovering Chinese contemporary art, Ai is one of the few to have transcended the label 'Chinese artist'. In part thanks to his gallery Urs Meile (Lucerne and Beijing), Ai has won the support of strong European collectors. His work is increasingly being shown at major venues around the world (Kunsthalle Bern, Kunsthaus Graz, Tate Liverpool) and included in major international exhibitions (the Moscow Biennial, the Guangzhou Triennale, Documenta). A complex, multi-faceted artist, Ai is poised to make a deep impact on contemporary art far beyond China's borders.
- 160 pages (200 illus.)
- 11 3/8 x 9 7/8 inches