tag archives: ai weiwei

ai weiwei: good fences make good neighbors

12 october 2017-11 february 2018

new york, NY

 

ai weiwei, the chinese artist, dissident, and activist, is building fences.

all over new york.

the city wide public art installation is so large that the sponsor, the non-profit public art fund, initiated a kickstarter campaign to help finance the project.

for the installation, the artist created fence themed sculptures for 17 public and private sites.  plus, 200 banners and 100+ documentary images to be installed on lamp posts, bus shelters, news stands, and advertising kiosks.

ai weiwei: good fences make good neighbors

rendering of the fence installation at doris c. freedman plaza | central park | 5th avenue and east 60th street | new york, NY

the plaza, which was named after the founder of the public art fund, has been the site of temporary art installations since 1977.

photo credit courtesy of ai weiwei studio/frahm & frahm and the public art fund via huffpost

the title of the exhibition is an excerpt from a poem by robert frost (1874-1963):

‘good fences make good neighbors.’

‘mending wall’ | north of boston | robert frost (1874-1963) | published in 1914

so, it seems ironic that the washington square (neighborhood) association is protesting the location of the ai weiwei fence installation in washington square park.

ai weiwei: good fences make good neighbors

rendering of the fence installation inside of washington square arch | washington square park | washington square north and 5th avenue | new york, NY

mckim, mead and white designed the arch, which was dedicated in 1895, to celebrate the centennial of the inauguration of president george washington.

photo credit courtesy of ai weiwei studio/frahm & frahm and the public art fund via huffpost

it also seems ironic that ai weiwei is fencing in the centerpiece of the 1964-1965 new york world’s fair, which had a theme of ‘peace through understanding’.

ai weiwei: good neighbors make good fences

rendering of the fence installation around the perimeter of the unisphere | flushing meadows-corona park | 111th street | queens, NY

landscape architect gilmore d. clarke (1892-1982) designed the unisphere for the 1964-1965 new york world’s fair.

photo credit courtesy of ai weiwei studio via vulture

when it was founded in 1859, the cooper union for the advancement of science and art revolutionized higher education by making it accessible to anyone.  both ai weiwei and the public art fund believe that art should be accessible to and experienced by everyone.  so, it seems unsurprising that they chose the cooper union as an installation site.  because of historical events that occurred in the great hall, the cooper union foundation building also symbolizes democracy, free speech, and equality.

ai weiwei: good fences make good neighbors

rendering of the fence installation on the facade of the foundation building | cooper union | 7 east 7th street  | new york, NY

designed by frederick a. peterson (1808-1885), the foundation building opened in 1858, one year before the opening of the cooper union.

photo credit via the public art fund

 

‘ai weiwei is unique in having combined the roles of

preeminent contemporary artist, political dissident, and human rights activist

in such a prominent and powerful way.’

-nicholas baume, director and chief curator, public art fund

 

for a complete list of installation sites,

click here to download the press release.

visiting the fondation louis vuitton (flv) was a highlight of our recent visit to paris.  the private contemporary art museum was created at the initiative of bernard arnault, the chairman and chief executive officer of luxury business group moët hennessy louis vuitton (LVMH), for his personal and corporate art collections.  the museum is located in the jardin d’acclimation, an amusement park in the bois de boulogne, which was converted from a royal hunting ground into a public park in 1860.

arnault collaborated with american architect, frank o. gehry, who also designed the guggenheim museum in bilbao, spain and the walt disney concert hall in los angeles, CA, to design a museum that epitomized the corporate image of LVMH as a patron of the arts, culture, and heritage.

the architecture of the museum was inspired by 19th century glasshouses, such as le palmarium that was built in the jardin d’acclimation in 1893, and demolished in 1934.

‘the idea of using glass…was essential in making the fondation a true bois de boulogne building, in the spirit of a children’s park.’  -frank o. gehry

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frank o. gehry | sketch of the fondation louis vuitton building preceding the initial architectural models | april 2006

photo credit (c) gehry partners, llp and frank o. gehry via fondation louis vuitton

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gehry partners, llp | architectural model | fondation louis vuitton | paris, france

photo credit (c) fondation louis vuitton via archdaily

 architectural digest (ad) magazine compared gehry’s architectural masterpiece to one of the masterpieces of hellenistic sculpture.

‘the structure alights in the park with the delicacy of the ‘winged victory’ perched at the head of the daru staircase in the louvre.  -mayer rus, architectural digest

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the winged victory of samothrace | parian marble and gray lartos marble | samothrace, greece | circa 190 BC

louvre museum | paris, france

photo credits lisa walsh | innerspace

the current chinese contemporary art exhibition at the fondation louis vuitton, bentu: chinese artists in a time of turbulence and transformation, even includes a replica of the winged victory of samothrace.

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xu zhen | eternity-tianlongshan grottoes bodhisattva, winged victory of samothrace | fiberglass, steel, cement | 2013

a replica of the winged victory of samothrace balanced on top of a buddha from the tianlongshan grottoes (21 buddhist cave temples from the eastern wei-tang dynasties (534-907), located in shanxi province, china)

bentu: chinese artists in a time of turbulence and transformation | fondation louis vuitton | paris, france | 27 january-2 may 2016

photo credits lisa walsh | innerspace

along with a sculpture by ai weiwei, who reportedly visited the fondation louis vuitton while he was in paris for the installation and opening of er xi: air de jeux (child’s play or playground), his recent exhibition at le bon marché department store, which is also owned by by LVMH.

click here to read my previous post about ai weiwei @ le bon marché.

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ai weiwei | tree | fragments of dead wood | 2010

in the background:  huang yong ping | fifty buddha arms | metal, terra cotta, resin, various objects | 1997-2013

 the structure of the museum is actually a building within a building.  the ‘iceberg’, the interior core of 11 irregularly shaped art galleries, is clad in 19,000 panels of white fiber-reinforced concrete.  a network of steel trusses and wood beams support the verrière (canopy), the exterior shell of twelve sails constructed from 3600 glass panels.

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the ‘iceberg’ and the verrière (canopy) | fondation louis vuitton | paris, france

photo credits lisa walsh | innerspace

you can see the structure of the canopy more closely from the west, east, central, and high terraces, which are accessible from the second, third, and forth floors of the museum.

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verrière (canopy) | fondation louis vuitton | paris, france

photo credit lisa walsh | innerspace
the panoramic views of paris from the rooftop terraces are spectacular!
to the west, la défense, one of the major business districts in paris.

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views of la défense from the fondation louis vuitton | paris, france

in the background:  la défense | under construction in the foreground:  the location for the louis vuitton women’s autumn/winter 2016 fashion show

photo credits lisa walsh | innerspace

and, to the east, the eiffel tower.

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view of the eiffel tower from the fondation louis vuitton | paris, france

the building is brilliantly sited not only to capture the views, but also to comply with local zoning ordinances.  to comply with height restrictions, the site was excavated so that the lower ground floor of the museum could be built below grade.  the fondation louis vuitton commissioned inside the horizon, a site specific installation, from danish-icelandish artist olafur eliasson for the grotto behind the underground reflecting pool.

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olafur eliasson | inside the horizon | stainless steel, aluminum, LED light system, colored glass, mirror, sound | 2014

photo credit lisa walsh | innerspace

the terraced waterfall flows into the subterranean reflecting pool.

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the terraced waterfall | fondation louis vuitton | paris, france

photo and video credits lisa walsh | innerspace

going to a department store isn’t usually our highest priority when we visit paris.  but this time, our visit coincided with an art exhibition by chinese contemporary artist, ai weiwei, at le bon marché.  so, my husband, bob, and i made an exception.

ai weiwei: er xi, air de jeux (child’s play or playground)

le bon marché rive gauche | 24, rue de sèvres | paris, france

16 january-20 february 2016

photo credit lisa walsh | innerspace

le bon marché commissioned the art exhibition as a promotion for their annual winter white sale.

does that seem surprising to you?

did you know that le bon marché is owned by luxury business group moët hennessy louis vuitton (LVMH)?  LVMH, who is a corporate patron of the arts, culture, and heritage, recently opened the the fondation louis vuitton, a private contemporary art museum in paris.  so, it doesn’t seem unusual for them to sponsor an art exhibition.  their only requirement of ai weiwei was the white color scheme.

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exhibition program | ai weiwei: er xi, air de jeux | le bon marché rive gauche | paris, france | 16 january-20 february 2016

the exhibition, which was his first exhibition in a retail environment, included five installations:  windows 1 to 10, ten narratives installed in the ten windows along rue de sèvres; dragon in four pieces, a silk and bamboo sculpture installed in the gallery on the ground floor; selfie wall, a video installation on the first floor; and escalating dragon, drawings in the style of chinese ink paintings applied to the railings of the central escalator.

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ai weiwei | escalating dragon

ai weiwei: er xi, air de jeux | le bon marché rive gauche | paris, france | 16 january-20 february 2016

photo credits lisa walsh | innerspace

the song of white, the atrium installation, was the most fantastic with 22 kites of mythological characters from the ancient chinese text, classic of mountains and seas (shan hai jing), suspended like mobiles over the cosmetics department.

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ai weiwei | the song of white

ai weiwei: er xi, air de jeux | le bon marché rive gauche | paris, france | 16 january-20 february 2016

photo credit lisa walsh | innerspace

for the entire exhibition, ai, along with a master kitemaker and his team of artisans from shandong province, china, hand crafted about 100 kites.  they left the bamboo frames of some kites uncovered.  and, covered the bamboo frames of other kites with white silk, which is less fragile than rice paper, the traditional material.  they illuminated some of the silk covered kites from the interior, so that they glowed like lanterns.

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ai weiwei | the song of white | heluo

heluo | a fish with one head and ten tails | barks like a dog

ai weiwei: er xi, air de jeux | le bon marché rive gauche | paris, france | 16 january-20 february 2016

photo credits lisa walsh | innerspace

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ai weiwei | the song of white | shuyu

shuyu | a fish with four heads, three tails, six chicken feet, and red feathers | chirps like a magpie

ai weiwei: er xi, air de jeux | le bon marché rive gauche | paris, france | 16 january-20 february 2016

photo credits lisa walsh | innerspace

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ai weiwei | the song of white | chunaio

chunaio | the ‘sixheadrook bird’ | a green bird with a yellow body, red feet, and six heads

ai weiwei: er xi, air de jeux | le bon marché rive gauche | paris, france | 16 january-20 february 2016

photo credits lisa walsh | innerspace

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ai weiwei | the song of white | tianwu

tianwu | ‘sky cry’, the lord of the waters | a diety with eight human heads, eight feet, and eight tails

ai weiwei: er xi, air de jeux | le bon marché rive gauche | paris, france | 16 january-20 february 2016

photo credits lisa walsh | innerspace

according to women’s wear daily (wwd), one of the kites may be acquired by the fondation louis vuitton (FLV).  if you were the curator, which one would you choose?

click here to read my post about the fondation louis vuitton.

the controversy is over.

two of the twelve bronze zodiac animal sculptures that once surrounded the fountain in the gardens of the old summer palace (yuanmingyuan), a qing dynasty (1644-1911) imperial retreat near beijing, have been returned to china by french billionaire francois-henri pinault.

the zodiac sculptures were not only the subject of circle of animals/zodiac heads, a public outdoor sculpture exhibition by chinese artist/activist, ai weiwei, but also, the subject of chinese zodiac, a jackie chan action movie.

ai weiwei | circle of animals/zodiac heads

exhibited 2 may-15 july 2011 | pulitzer fountain | new york, NY

photo credit arrested motion

christie’s sold the the two sculptures for 31.4 million euros (US$40 million) during the february 2009 auction of the collection yves saint laurent et pierre berge.  but, the buyer, a chinese national, withheld payment in protest.  so, the two sculptures remained in the collection of pierre berge until they were acquired by the pinault family.

bronze rabbit and rat zodiac animal sculptures | from the fountain at the yuanmingyuan | qianlong period (r. 1736-1795)

collection yves saint laurent et pierre berge | christie’s paris | 23-25 february 2009 | sale 1209 | lots 678 and 677

photo credits les cahiers d’alain truong
the pinault family controls kering, the french luxury brand group formerly known as ppr, which also owns christie’s.

coincidently, christie’s was recently granted a license to become the first independently operated international auction house in china. (the chinese operations of christie’s compititor, sotheby’s, are a joint venture with state-owned beijing gehua cultural development group.)

could this be a convenient coincidence?

click here to read related previous posts, new york times, wall street journal, and financial times articles.

circle of animals/zodiac heads, a public outdoor sculpture exhibition by chinese artist/activist, ai weiwei, recently debuted in new york and london, following a september-december 2010 appearance at the biennale in são paolo, brazil.


ai weiwei | circle of animals/zodiac heads

2 may-15 july 2011

pulitzer fountain, grand army plaza, new york, NY

photo credit arrested motion

 ai weiwei | circle of animals/zodiac heads

12 may-30 june 2011

somerset house | london, united kingdom

photo credit somerset house

the world tour of the exhibition continues at the los angeles county museum of art (lacma) from 20 august 2011-12 february 2012, followed by appearances in pittsburgh, PA, houston, TX, and washington, DC.

it seems ironic that the exhibition debuted in london, since the sculptures were inspired by the bronze heads of the twelve animals of the chinese zodiac that once surrounded the fountain in the gardens of the old summer palace (yuanmingyuan), a qing dynasty (1644-1911) imperial retreat near beijing.  the european-style gardens were designed by jesuit missionaries giuseppe castiglione and michel benoist for the qianlong emperor (r. 1736-1795), who was fascinated by western architecture, science, and engineering.  unlike western cultures, the chinese measured time in twelve two-hour periods.  so, the missionaries engineered the fountain, which functioned as a water clock, to pump water from the head of a different zodiac animal every two hours.

the twelve zodiac animal heads disappeared when british and french troops ransacked the old summer palace in 1860 during the second opium war.  since then, some of the zodiac animal heads from the fountain have reappeared on the international art market, most recently in christie’s sale of the legendary collection of yves saint laurent et pierre berge in paris on 23-25 february 2009.

bronze rat head | from the zodiac fountain at the yuanmingyuan | qianlong period (r. 1736-1795)

from the collection of yves saint laurent and pierre berge

photo credit les cahiers d’alain truong

bronze rabbit head | from the zodiac fountain at the yuanmingyuan | qianlong period (r. 1736-1795)

from the collection of yves saint laurent and pierre berge

photo credit les cahiers d’alain truong

the sale of the bronze rat and rabbit heads from the collection of yves saint laurent and pierre berge created a controversy.  first, china’s foreign ministry issued a statement that the rat and rabbit heads were national treasures that should be returned to china, and attempted to block the sale.  but, christie’s and pierre berge refused to withdraw the lots.  then, a chinese national, cai mingchao, bid 31.4 million euros (US$40 million) for the rat and rabbit heads, and withheld payment in protest.  so, the rat and rabbit heads from the zodiac fountain remain in the collection of pierre berge.

since 2000, the tiger, monkey, ox, boar, and horse heads from the fountain have been acquired by or donated to the poly art museum in beijing.  the locations of some of the other animal heads from the fountain remain unknown.

according to ai weiwei, the animal heads from the fountain were:

‘…designed by an italian, and made by a french[man]…’

‘…i don’t think that’s [a chinese] national treasure…’

this is not surprising, since ai weiwei’s work explores what is fake, real, authentic, or valuable.  he often incorporates antiquities like classical chinese furniture or chinese ceramics into his work…some of my favorite antiques to combine with modern furnishings in my projects at innerspace interior design.

but, the way that he reinterprets these classics could be considered either inspired or irreverent.

constructive?

altar table (qiaotouan) | huanghuali wood | ming-qing dynasty | 16th-17th century

grace wu bruce | hong kong

photo credit grace wu bruce

ai weiwei | table with three legs | qing dynasty table (1644-1911) | 2008

ai weiwei four movements exhibition | phillips de pury | london, united kingdom | 3-28 march 2009

photo credit phillips de pury

ai weiwei | crossed tables | qing dynasty tables (1644-1911) | 2000

sold for 45,600 pounds | phillips de pury | london, united kingdom | 22 june 2007

photo by phillips de pury

evolutionary?

blue and white porcelain bird feeder | ming dynasty (1368-1644) | xuande mark and period (r. 1426-1435)

sold for US$50,000 | christie’s | new york, NY | 17 september 2008

photo credit christie’s

blue and white porcelain cricket jar | ming dynasty (1368-1644) | xuande mark and period (r. 1425-1435)

suzhou museum | suzhou, china

photo credit wikimedia

ai weiwei | owl house 4A | blue and white porcelain | 2010

haines gallery | san francisco, CA

photo credit artnet

destructive?

painted grey earthenware cocoon jar | western han dynasty (3rd-2nd century BC)

sold for US$2500 | christie’s | new york, NY | 24 march 2011

photo credit christie’s

ai weiwei | coca-cola vase | han dynasty vase and industrial paint | 2010

ai weiwei (copenhagen) exhibition | 18 november 2010-27 march 2011 | faurschou | copenhagen, denmark

photo credit artnet

ai weiwei | colored vases | 31 han dynasty vases and industrial paint | 2010

ai weiwei exhibition | 13 may-16 july 2011 | lisson gallery | london, united kingdom

photo credit lisson gallery

or, revolutionary?

ai weiwei’s work is considered so controversial in china that, on 11 january 2011, chinese officials ordered the demolition of his shanghai art studio because it did not comply with building regulations.  then, he was arrested on 2 april 2011 in beijing.  and then, he was charged with tax evasion.  now, everyone is wondering when he will be released.

‘release ai weiwei’ sign posted on the facade of the tate modern museum | london, united kingdom

photo credit randomwire

and, i’m also wondering why circle of animals/zodiac heads is appearing in pittsburgh and houston, but not in san francisco.

ps.  on 22 june 2011, ai weiwei was released on bail.  however, the conditions of his bail forbid the artist/activist from speaking to the media for at least a year.