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Masters of contemporary art come together at NGV

09 Jul 2015

Masters of contemporary art come together at NGV Image

By Alana Beitz

The works of Andy Warhol and Ai Weiwei will be presented side by side at the NGV this summer, in an exciting collaboration with The Andy Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh, USA.

The two artists are celebrated for their ability to capture and critique contemporary society through their art, and both have had a major influence in redefining the idea of the “artist” in the modern era.

The collective exhibition will display more than 300 works, spanning the entire careers of both artists. Due to their experimental and diverse natures, a wide range of mediums will be presented at the NGV, including painting, sculpture, film, architecture, publishing and social media.

Some of Warhol’s most iconic creations will be on display, such as Campbell’s Soup, Mao, Three Marilyns, and Elvis. These icons of pop art will be shown alongside a selection of previously unseen work.

Ai Weiwei will contribute new installations from his Forever Bicycles and Chandelier series. An element of activism and cultural criticism is embedded into his work, making him one of China’s most provocative and daring artists.

Weiwei creates conceptual responses to the global issues of the 21st century, such as human rights, freedom of speech and modernity.

Weiwei believes the upcoming exhibition is an interesting and important one, and is very excited to have his work displayed beside Warhol’s.

“I personally appreciate his art very much and he has had a great influence on me, so it is an honor to have the opportunity to be exhibited alongside him. This is a great privilege for me as an artist.” Weiwei said.  

The exhibition will focus on the parallels and intersections of the two artists, of which there are many.

Weiwei encountered Warhol’s work when he moved to the United States in 1980. The first book he purchased in New York was The Philosophy of Andy Warhol (From A to B and Back again). Photographs from Warhol’s trip to Weiwei’s native China will also be exhibited as part of the exhibition.

Each artist is recognised for his approach to studio production and collaboration. Warhol’s Factory in 1960s New York was a hotbed of artists, filmmakers, intellectuals and socialites.

Likewise, Weiwei’s studio is teaming with assistants and collaborators, who experiment with communication technologies and social media to create contemporary works of art.

Weiwei says the exhibition will let the public see the place of contemporary art in life today.

“It lets the public see some similarities between two artists from extremely different backgrounds in extremely different societies, as well as discover what uses art can have in our lives and perhaps bring about more interesting associations,” he said.

Perhaps the greatest similarity between the two artists is their love of cats. Warhol lived with a herd of Siamese cats, and all except one, were named Sam. Likewise, Weiwei’s studio is home to over 30 cats that frequently appear in his social media posts.

To celebrate this shared love, NGV Kids will present Warhol’s drawings and portraits with his pets alongside an interactive installation designed by Weiwei for young visitors to create a Warhol-inspired image to share via social media.

NGV, Melbourne
December 11, 2015 – April 24, 2016.

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