Contemporary Art

Ai Weiwei

China 1957

Installation, Sculpture, Performance Art, Photography, Video Art

Ai Weiwei
Ai Weiwei
December 30, 2016

With his personal circumstances moving in constant flux, Ai Weiwei, a Chinese artist, remains a cultural magnet. And nothing less than a worldwide phenomenon. A figure of Warholian celebrity (as labeled by New York Times), he is renowned for his political activism and social media activity almost as much as for his social interventions, approach to the readymade, and knowledge of Chinese traditional crafts. His oeuvre isn’t easily categorized, as he is an extremely creative and diverse individual, expressing his feelings and thoughts through sculptures, videos, installations, and performances. However, his fame extends throughout and beyond the art world. A master at communicating powerful ideas in astonishingly few words, Ai Weiwei is known for his innovative use of social media to disseminate his views. With works that touch on topics such as imprisonment, borders, and disaster, the artist has often found himself in conflict with the Chinese authorities. Today, he’s an artist of global stature, whose strong social conscience has galvanized a generation of Chinese artists, but also numerous others throughout the globe.

A Victim From an Early Age

Ai Weiwei was born in Beijing. His father was the Chinese poet Ai Qing, who was denounced during the Anti-Rightist Movement due to his poetry. In 1958, the family was sent to a labor camp in Beidahuang, Heilongjiang, when the artist was just one-year-old. They were subsequently exiled to Shihezi, Xinjiang in 1961, where they lived for 16 years. Upon Mao Zedong’s death and the end of the Cultural Revolution, the family returned to Beijing in 1976. Ai Weiwei began his training at Beijing Film Academy. In 1978, he was one of the founders of the early avant-garde art group the “Stars”, together with Ma Desheng, Wang Keping, Huang Rui, Li Shuang, Zhong Acheng and Qu Leilei. The group disbanded in 1983, yet Ai participated in regular Stars group shows, The Stars: Ten Years, 1989 (Hanart Gallery, Hong Kong and Taipei), and a retrospective exhibition in Beijing in 2007: Origin Point (Today Art Museum, Beijing). He spent the years between 1983 and 1993 in New York. A decade spent in the USA, a country that promised Chinese artists freedom from the repressions they faced in their homeland, helped in shaping his style and set the stage for his future career as an artist. He lived in a tiny apartment in New York’s East Village and was an active member of the neighborhood’s arts scene.[1] There he continued his education at the Parsons School of Design and was instrumental in the founding of the Overseas Chinese Artists Foundation as well as laying the groundwork for experimental artists in the East Village where he published three books about the future generation of artists. The artist finds inspiration not only in the contemporaneity but his own personal memories as well.

Some artworks are very personal and inspired by the artist’s own past

Ai Weiwei clashed with China home government in 2008 2010 2011 2016 over human rights
Ai Weiwei – Forever (detail), 2014 photo credits FAD Magazine

Clashing with Chinese Authorities

In 2006, even though he could barely type, Ai Weiwei started blogging. For more than three years, he turned out a steady stream of scathing social commentary, criticism of government policy, thoughts on art and architecture, and autographical writings.[2] He wrote about the Sichuan earthquake (and posted a list of the schoolchildren who died because of the government’s “tofu-dregs engineering”), reminisced about Andy Warhol and the East Village art scene, described the irony of being investigated for “fraud” by the Ministry of Public Security, made a modest proposal for tax collection. Weiwei’s engagement over Sichuan province earthquake included assembling a team, going on the spot, information and filming the area – a direct response to government’s intransparency regarding this natural disaster, and its resistance to publicly announce the names of students that died during the earthquake, with the poor construction of students’ campuses being one of the main reasons for their deaths. The artist and his team gathered more than 5,000 names before Chinese authorities shut down his blog on June 1, 2009. Later that year, he was beaten by the police, when he tried to testify for one member of his investigating team. After this beating, Ai Weiwei was experiencing frequent headaches and complained of his sudden inability to concentrate. He went to Germany, where he was diagnosed with internal bleeding, and where he had an emergent brain surgery.

Ai Weiwei spent some time in China in 2008 2010 and 2011
Ai Weiwei installation at Konzerthaus Berlin – Image via

The Story of Ai Weiwei’s Passport

The artist was arrested by the Chinese authorities while catching a plane from Beijing to Hong Kong back in April 2011. He was held in prison for almost three months – at first, it was stated by a Chinese state media that Ai Weiwei was arrested due to the incomplete departure procedures, and only later it was announced that Ai Weiwei was imprisoned during the investigation for “alleged economic crimes”. After 81 days in prison, Ai Weiwei was released, but the Chinese authorities have kept his passport and he was unable to leave the country. The answer to the question ‘why he was arrested in the first place’ probably originates in the long history of the artist’s criticism pointed toward the government, and yet, the authorities accused him of tax fraud. They stated that his company – the Beijing Fake Cultural Development Ltd. – had allegedly evaded $1.85 million worth of taxes and intentionally destroyed accounting documents. But, according to information that came from Ai Weiwei’s family, the Beijing Fake Cultural Development Ltd. is officially registered in his wife’s name, and Ai Weiwei is not the legal representative of this design company, nor is he the CEO. During the time he was unable to leave the country, Weiwei began one of his best-known performances. More precisely, With Flowers, part-performance and part-protest began on November 30, 2013, more than two years since the start of his confinement. The artist placed a fresh bouquet of flowers in the basket of a bicycle in front of his studio in Beijing and action of endured for about 600 days. In July of 2015, Ai Weiwei finally got his passport back, after four years during which he missed more than 200 exhibitions featuring his work and numerous other events.

Ai Weiwei worked on Bird's Nest in 2008
Ai Weiwei – With Flowers, 2013 – image via artist’s Instagram

Ai Weiwei and the Refuge Crisis

Without going into the politics behind Syrian conflict (which has lasted for almost six years now), we can only shake our heads in disbelief as we see just how many people’s lives have been lost and how many destroyed. Countless faceless and nameless men, women, and children, barely escaping from becoming a collateral damage in the war, tried finding a safe place in Europe. Ai Weiwei has recognized the gravity of the situation and has been involved in the European refugee crisis for many months now. He is constantly criticizing the European and the global response to the crisis. As he recently told The Guardian: “These people have nothing to do with Europe; they are like people from outer space, but they have to come. They have been pushed out and they are being totally neglected by Europe. They are sleeping in the mud and rain and it is only volunteers giving them food or clothes.”[3] The artist has described the EU-Turkey deal as illegal and immoral, shameful, underlining the fact it’s not a solution, but a source for further problems (EU-Turkey agreement allow the Greek and EU FRONTEX border teams to stop the influx of refugees into Greece, forcing them back to Turkey, while the European countries would accept refugees from Turkey based on quota system agreed among the EU member states. Turkey received billions of Euros as aid). He visited refugee camp Idomeni in Northern Greece, where thousands of people are trapped after the so-called Balkan Route was closed. Ai pulled his works out of Denmark when the Danish parliament passed the law allowing the authorities to confiscate valuables and cash from migrants in order to cover the cost of their care. He set up a studio on the Greek island of Lesvos (also known as Lesbos), stating: “This is a very historical moment from any perspective. As an artist I want to be more involved, I want to create artworks in relation to the crisis and also create some kind of consciousness about the situation.”

In September of 2015, body of a 3-year old Syrian boy refugee, Alan Kurdi, surfaced on a beach near the Turkish town of Bodrum. The heartbreaking photograph captured this haunting moment of the lifeless infant who drowned and was left there on the beach, lying face down in the sand. An image, as powerful and impactful such as this one, became a symbol of the refugees’ plight and struggle they have to overcome in order to escape the horrors of their own homeland and reach a new and hopefully better world. Ai Weiwei posed on the Mediterranean beach as the Syrian boy, lying face down on the beach, in an attempt to remind the world of the plight of the people making their way to Europe. Many have praised Ai’s humanitarian activism in Cycladic islands and in mainland Greece. From the artist’s statement, we can conclude that he is really involved in migrant crisis as a humanitarian, not only as an artist. As he said: “People are being selfish, very greedy, short-sighted and ridiculous. This is not a regional problem; it is a human problem. The bad guys are everywhere, but also the good guys are. We have to trust in humanity but not trust in politicians.”[4] However, there are some voices criticizing his art engagement in relation to the refugee crisis, accusing him of using the situation (especially the posing as a drowned boy) for strengthening his celebrity status. On the other hand, many critics are saying that his activism damages his art. Those who are critically oriented towards Ai’s activism are also critical about the artist’s idea to make a feature length documentary which he plans for cinema release (a film about the refugees). But, that is how protest art functions. Someone might dislike it, but nobody can deny the enormous potential art and celebrity artists have to raise awareness about injustice, humanitarian crisis, wars, and other violent events.

The artist raises his voice against injustice, oppresion and war

Ai Weiwei view on public is diverse and they view him as a star
Ai Weiwei Poses as a Drowned Syrian Refugee Toddler Aylan Kurdi (detail), 2016 – photo credits India Today magazine

Sculptures – a Mix of Tradition and Modern Art

With an active role in the refugee crisis and other socially responsible activities, it is almost easy to forget Ai Weiwei’s more traditional form of art expression. We’re speaking, of course, about his sculptures. His work is highly influenced by Chinese tradition, political and social issues, relations between past and present, and so on. But, probably the most important feature of his art is his attempt to spread social messages through the beautiful artworks he creates. When it comes to sculpture, he is probably one of the most innovative artists in the world, pushing the boundaries of today’s sculpture practice. In Coca-Cola Vase, he has displayed a conflict between the progression of the modern and the preservation of traditional – what else could be said about the sculpture where we see a Twentieth Century logo festooned upon a two-thousand-year-old vase? The emblem of American capitalism is emblazoned on an ancient Chinese artifact, a unique hand-crafted object adorned with the ornament of mass-production. Deeply conceptualized, this artwork poses many questions: the relationship between consumerism and traditional way of life, between American capitalism and Chinese “one state-two models” system, new and old. In Grapes, the sculptor wove together 32 Qing Dynasty (1644–1911) stools in a semi-spherical bowl. He has asserted that these three-legged stools are a fundamental expression of the aesthetic of rural China; they can be found in every countryside home, often passed down through the generations. By giving stools a completely unique form, Ai Weiwei points to the potency and rapidity of the social, economic, political, and artistic changes facing China in the 21st century. In the Gold version of Circle of Animals / Zodiac Heads, the artist has reinterpreted the twelve gold animal heads representing the traditional Chinese zodiac that once adorned the famed fountain-clock of the Yuanming Yuan, an imperial retreat in Beijing.

Ai Weiwei
Ai Weiwiei – Grapes – image via

Speak Up!

The need for honesty has never been bigger than today. The world is absurd, stupid and cruel, and people who dare speak against it are often silenced. It takes a certain level of courage and spite to resist those who oppress the weaker. Ai Weiwei is a shining example and his never-ending pursuit of honesty and fairness has been recognized by many. In the world whose negativity seems endless, where our hearts are broken just by watching the news and seeing images around the globe, the hope is a necessity. A hope that some things may get better. The artist provides a glimpse of that hope! Famed for his tongue in cheek criticisms, his satires of traditional culture and his strong sense of social responsibility, Ai Weiwei is always ready to raise his voice against injustice, oppression, war and everything that hurts those unable to defend themselves. And he is not going to stop, as long as he feels he’s making a difference, as long the world needs someone to stand up and speak up. Because of all above-mentioned, Ai Weiwei is our Artist of the Year 2016!

He is represented by Verso Contemporary Art and Kunzt Gallery.

Ai Weiwei lives and works in Beijing and Berlin.


  1. Weiwei A., Ai Weiwei: New York 1983-1993, Distanz, Berlin [2011]
  2. Weiwei A., Ai Weiwei’s Blog: Writings, Interviews, and Digital Rants, 2006-2009, The MIT Press, Cambridge [2011]
  3. Brown M., Ai Weiwei says EU’s refugee deal with Turkey is immoral, The Guardian [December 28, 2016]
  4. Ibidem

Featured image: portrait of the artist, photo credits Gao Yuan

YearExhibition TitleGallery/MuseumSolo/Group
2016Ai WeiweiLisson Gallery, New York, USASolo
2016Andy Warhol / Ai WeiweiThe Andy Warhol Museum, Pittsburg, USAGroup
2016Er Zi, Air de JeuBon Marché, Paris, FranceSolo
2016Chinese Whispers: Recent Art from the Sigg & M+ Sigg CollectionsKunstmuseum Bern, GermanyGroup
2015Andy Warhol / Ai WeiweiNational Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne, AustraliaGroup
2015A New Dynasty: Created in ChinaARoS Arhus Kunstmuseum, Aarhus, DenmarkGroup
2015Ceramix – Ceramic art from Gauguin to SchütteBonnefantenmuseum, Maastricht, The NetherlandsGroup
2015A brief history of the futureLouvre, Paris, FranceGroup
2015Sculpture in the City 2015London, UKGroup
2015The M+ Sigg Collection: Chinese art from the 1970s to nowThe Whitworth Art Gallery, Manchester, UKGroup
2015When we share more than everMKG, Hamburg, GermanyGroup
2015Ai WeiweiHelsinki Art Museum, Helsinki, FinlandSolo
2015Art from ElsewhereMIMA, Middlesborough, UKGroup
2015Ai Weiwei: Tiger, Tiger, TigerChambers Fine Art, Beijing, ChinaSolo
201528 ChineseAsian Art Museum, San Francisco, USAGroup
2015Ai Weiwei: AB Blood TypeMagicians Space, Beijing, ChinaSolo
2015The Order of Things – Photography from The Walther Collection, Neu-Ulm Go East – The Gene & Brian Sherman Contemporary Asian Art CollectionArt Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, AustraliaGroup
2015Ai WeiweiTang Gallery, Continua – Beijing, Beijing, ChinaSolo
2015Hamber Hipster HandyIm Bann des Mobiltefons, Museum fur Angewandte Kunst, Frankfurt, GermanyGroup
2015Ai Weiwei's Circle of Animals/Zodiac Heads: GoldPalm Springs Art Museum, Palm Springs, CA, USASolo
2015Cannibalism? On Appropriation In ArtNational Gallery of Art, Warsaw, PolandGroup
2015Ai Weiwei's Circle of Animals/Zodiac Heads: GoldPortland Art Museum, Portland, OR, USASolo
2015Rare EarthAugarten Contemporary, Vienna, AustriaGroup
2015SELF: Portraits of Artists in Their AbsenceNational Academy Museum, New York, USAGroup
2015Ai WeiweiRoyal Academy exhibition at Burlington HouseSolo
2014Ai Weiwei on AlcatrazAlcatrazSolo
2014Trace: Performance and its DocumentsQueensland Art Gallery | Gallery of Modern ArtGroup
2014Where There’s a Will, There’s a WayPinchuckArtCentreGroup
2014LifelikePhoenix Art MuseumGroup
2014Fundamental Abstraction IIIHaines GalleryGroup
2013Ai Weiwei: Circle of Animals/Zodiac HeadsThe Cleveland Museum of Art, Cleveland, OHSolo
2013Ai Weiwei - OrdosGalleria Continua - Le Moulin, Boissy-le-ChâtelSolo
2013Ai Weiwei – Disposition55th Venice Biennale of Art, Collateral Event - Zuecca Project Space, VeniceSolo
2013Ai Weiwei: According to What?Indianapolis Museum of Art - IMA, Indianapolis, INSolo
2013Ai WeiweiGaleria Pilar, São PauloSolo
2013Where There’s a Will, There’s a WayPinchukArtCentre, KievGroup
2013FramedDUDDELL´S, Hong Kong, SARGroup
2013Women’S Art SocietyOriel Mostyn Gallery, Llandudno (Wales)Group
2013A few Things that I know from themTORRI, ParisGroup
2013Taiping TianguoNUS Museum - National University of Singapore, SingaporeGroup
2013Liquid AsiaDUDDELL´S, Hong Kong, SARGroup
2013Inaugural ExhibitionPizzuti Collection, Columbus, OHGroup
2013Curitiba Biennial 2013CuritibaGroup
2013Głośno!/Loud! — works by the most important representatives of video artBWA Contemporary Art Gallery in Katowice, KatowiceGroup
2013When Now Is Minimal - Die Unbekannte Seite Der Sammlung GoetzNeues Museum - Staatliches Museum für Kunst und Design in Nürnberg, NurembergGroup
2013Emscher Kunst 20103Emscher Kunst, EssenGroup
2013Circles / KreiseKunstverein Bamberg, BambergGroup
2013Biennale di Venezia - 55th International Art ExhibitionLa Biennale di Venezia, VeniceGroup
2013exercises on democracyOpen Case 303, AthensGroup
2013Fuck Off 2Groninger Museum, GroningenGroup
2013Verantwortung - Zum Temperament einer HaltungVögele Kulturzentrum, PfäffikonGroup
20131.pers.singb-05 Kunst- und Kulturzentrum, MontabaurGroup
2013Back to Earth. Die Wiederentdeckung der Keramik in der Kunst.Herbert-Gerisch Stiftung, NeumünsterGroup
2013El Arte del Presente - Colección Helga de Alvear - Mecenazgo al Servicio del ArteCentrocentro Cibeles De Cultura Y Ciudadanía, MadridGroup
2013China ChinaPinchukArtCentre, KievGroup
2013New Framework: Chinese Avant-garde Photography 1980s-90sBlindspot Gallery, Hong Kong, SARGroup
2013Taiping TianguoSALT Beyoğlu, IstanbulGroup
2013Moving - Norman Foster On ArtCarré d´art - Musée d´art contemporain de Nîmes, NîmesGroup
2013Freiheit!Kunstpalais Erlangen, ErlangenGroup
2013Ja NatuurlijkGeM - Museum voor Actuele Kunst, The HagueGroup
2013Yes NaturallyGemeentemuseum Den Haag, The HagueGroup
2013More Real? Art in the Age of TruthinessThe Minneapolis Institute of Arts, Minneapolis, MNGroup
2013Beg, Borrow and StealPalm Springs Art Museum, Palm Springs, CAGroup
2013Poetics Of ConstructionHaines Gallery, San Francisco, CAGroup
201328 ChineseRubell Family CollectionGroup
2013EXPRESSION: A Philosophical Portrait of HumankindBen Brown Fine Arts Hong KongGroup
2013IslandDairy Art CentreGroup
2013Sikkema Jenkins & CoWhitebox Art CenterGroup
2013'Pataphysics' A theoretical exhibitionSean Kelly GalleryGroup
2013SubRosa: The Language of ResistanceUSF Contemporary Art MuseumGroup
2013Baby FormulaMichael Janssen SingaporeSolo
2013Art Basel 2013 - UnlimitedArt BaselGroup
2013Fire in Her BellyMALONEY FINE ART (Los Angeles)Group
2013A Journal of the Plague Year. Fear, ghosts, rebels. SARS, Leslie and the Hong Kong storyPara/Site Art SpaceGroup
2013do it (outside)Socrates Sculpture ParkGroup
2013More Real? Art in the Age of TruthinessMinneapolis Institute of ArtsGroup
2013Beg Borrow and StealPalm Springs Art MuseumGroup
2012Ai WeiweiGalleria Continua - San Gimignano, San GimignanoSolo
2012Rebar – LucerneGalerie Urs Meile, Beijing-Lucerne, LucerneSolo
2012Ai Weiwei - Rebar - LucerneGalerie Urs Meile, Beijing-Lucerne, BeijingSolo
2012ForgeMary Boone Gallery - 745 Fifth Avenue, New York City, NYSolo
2012Ai Weiwei: According to What?Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington, DCSolo
2012Ai Weiwei - 81 Wooden BallsBergen Kunstmuseum, BergenSolo
2012Remember MedoART Seoul, SeoulSolo
2012Ai Weiwei - New York 1983-1993Ernst Museum Budapest, BudapestSolo
2012Ai WeiweiDorottya Gallery, BudapestSolo
2012ZooMusée d´art contemporain de Montréal, Montreal, QCSolo
2012Perspectives: Ai WeiweiFreer and Sackler Galleries - The Smithsonian's Museum of Asian Art, Washington, DCSolo
2012Ai Weiwei - A Living Sculpture / The BoxPippy Houldsworth Gallery, London (England)Solo
2012New York. 1983-1993Moscow House of Photography, MoscowSolo
2012AI WeiweiLISSON GALLERY, MilanSolo
2012Ai Weiwei - DE PONTmuseum of contemporary art, TilburgSolo
2012Ai Weiwei: Zodiac Heads/circle Of Animals: GoldMuseum of Contemporary Art San Diego - MCASD Downtown, San Diego, CASolo
2012Ai Weiwei : EntrelacsJeu de Paume, ParisSolo
2012Ai WeiweiMagasin 3 Stockholm Konsthall, StockholmSolo
2012Never SorryFriedman Benda Gallery, New York City, NYSolo
2012Ai WeiweiMary Boone Gallery - 745 Fifth Avenue, New York City, NYSolo
2012Ai WeiweiMary Boone Gallery - 541 West 24 Street, New York City, NYSolo
2012No BordersArnolfini, Bristol (England)Group
2012PerspectiveGalleria Nove , BerlinGroup
20121st Kochi-Muziris BiennaleKochiGroup
2012Tea with NefertitiMATHAF - Arab Museum of Modern Art, DohaGroup
2012Private Kunstsammlungen Münster - Director´s ChoiceKunsthalle Münster, MünsterGroup
2012Apo-CalypseAncienne usine d'argenterie Béard, ClarensGroup
2012LifelikeNew Orleans Museum of Art NOMA, New Orleans, LAGroup
2012Scribe’s HouseBlack Square Gallery, Miami, FLGroup
2012PrivatSchirn Kunsthalle, Frankfurt/MainGroup
2012Real Life StoriesBergen Kunstmuseum, BergenGroup
2012White: Marbles And Paintings From Antiquity To NowRobilant + Voena, London (England)Group
2012Busan Biennale 2012 - Garden of LeaningBusanGroup
2012Regarding Warhol: Sixty Artists, Fifty YearsThe Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York City, NYGroup
2012Against the GrainMint Museum of Art, Charlotte, NCGroup
2012NewtopiaCultuurcentrum Mechelen, MechelenGroup
2012From Zero To Zero & BackLiget Galeria, BudapestGroup
2012More Real? Art in the Age of TruthinessSite Santa Fe, Santa Fe, NMGroup
2012In Love, We Trust. Art work from the collection of Chang Ailing & Ailing Foundation18Gallery Shanghai - Bund18, ShanghaiGroup
2012In Love, We TrustBund18 Creative Center, ShanghaiGroup
2012Oltre il muroCastello di Rivoli Museo d'Arte Contemporanea, TurinGroup
2012ManifestlyPresent - Then - Today - Tomorrow - Forum TriangulareEuregionaal Kunstcentrum Oud-Rekem, Oud-RekemGroup
2012Arsenale 2012 - ARSENALE - Ukrainian Biennale of Contemporary ArtKievGroup
2012太平天國/Taiping Tianguo, A History of Possible EncountersPara/Site Art Space, Hong Kong, SARGroup
2012Una Mirada Múltiple: Selecciones de la Colección Ella Fontanals-CisnerosMuseo Nacional de Bellas Artes, HavanaGroup
2012I want to grasp things with the mind the way the penis is grasped by the vaginadavel 14, CullyGroup
2012Struggle(s)Maison Particulière Art Center, BrusselsGroup
2012Shanghai ! La Tentation de l’occidentInstitut culturel Bernard Magrez, BordeauxGroup
2012Shanghai ! La Tentation de l’occidentPolka Galerie, ParisGroup
2012ArtandpressMartin-Gropius-Bau, BerlinGroup
2012IncarnationsGalerie Paris-Beijing, ParisGroup
2012IncarnationsGalerie Paris-Beijing, BeijingGroup
2012Postmodernismo. Stile e Sovversione 1970-1990MART- Museo d'Arte Moderna e Contemporanea di Trento e Rovereto, RoveretoGroup
2012LifelikeWalker Art Center, Minneapolis, MNGroup
2012Wir Sind Alle Astronauten - Universum Buckminster FullerZeppelin Museum, FriedrichshafenGroup
2012Persona 3Chambers Fine Art - New YorkGroup
2012Marble Sculpture from 350 B.C. to last weekSperone Westwater Gallery, New York City, NYGroup
2012Contemporary Galleries: 1980–NowMoMA - Museum of Modern Art, New York City, NYGroup
2012Six of One, Half a Dozen of the OtherOlyvia Fine ArtGroup
2012Public: Collective Identity: Occupied SpaceUniversity of Toronto Art CentreGroup
2012Print/OutMoMA (Museum of Modern Art)Group
2012Sunflower SeedsMary Boone Gallery - 24th St.Solo
2012A History of Chinese PhotographyParis-Beijing Gallery - Hotel WinssingerGroup
2011Louisiana Contemporary: Ai WeiweiLouisiana Museum of Modern Art, HumlebækSolo
2011Ai Weiwei - Circle Of AnimalsPaul Kasmin Gallery, New York City, NYSolo
2011Ai Weiwei absentTaipei Fine Arts Museum, TaipeiSolo
2011Ai Weiwei: Dropping the Urn (Ceramic Works, 5000 BC – AD 2010)Victoria & Albert Museum - V&A, London (England)Solo
2011Ai Weiwei in New York – Fotografien 1983-1993Martin-Gropius-Bau, BerlinSolo
2011Fairytale - 1001 ChairsOlyvia Fine Art, London (England)Solo
2011Ai Weiwei - InterlacingKunsthaus Graz, GrazSolo
2011Ai Weiwei: Circle of Animals/Zodiac HeadsLos Angeles County Museum of Art - LACMA, Los Angeles, CASolo
2011Ai Weiwei - Art / ArchitectureKunsthaus Bregenz, BregenzSolo
2011Ai WeiweiMuseum DKM, DuisburgSolo
2011Ai Wei Wei: New York Photographs 1983 - 1993Asia Society and Museum, New York City, NYSolo
2011Ai Weiwei - InterlacingFotomuseum Winterthur, WinterthurSolo
2011Ai Weiwei: Dropping the Urn (Ceramic Works, 5000 BCE – 2010 CE)Knoxville Museum of Art (KMA), Knoxville, TNSolo
2011Ai WeiweiLisson Gallery, London (England)Solo
2011Ai Weiwei - Circle of Animals / Zodiac HeadsSomerset House, London (England)Solo
2011Ai WeiweiGalleri Faurschou - CopenhagenSolo
2011Ai WeiweiNeugerriemschneider, BerlinSolo
2011Ai Weiwei - Teehaus, 2009Museen Dahlem, BerlinSolo
2011What Made Us Famous'Olyvia Fine Art, London (England)Group
2011Relate34FineArt, Cape TownGroup
2011Die Kunst der Entschleunigung: Bewegung und Ruhe in der Kunst von Caspar David Friedrich bis Ai WeiweiGoethe-Institut Moskau, MoscowGroup
2011Die Kunst der Entschleunigung - Bewegung und Ruhe in der modernen KunstKunstmuseum Wolfsburg, WolfsburgGroup
2011Ten Years in HanoiBui Gallery, ParisGroup
2011Works From The CollectionGalleri Faurschou - Beijing, BeijingGroup
2011Mit Feuer und Flamme – Keramik in der GegenwartskunstMuseum Villa Rot, Burgrieden-RotGroup
20114th Moscow Biennale of Contemporary Art - Rewriting WorldsMoscowGroup
2011China-ism Ii: Democracy Or Economy?White Box, New York City, NYGroup
2011arkhaiologia - Archäologie in der zeitgenössischen KunstKunsthaus CentrePasquArt - Centre d'Art, Biel/BienneGroup
2011Farbe im FlußWeserburg | Museum für moderne Kunst, BremenGroup
2011Farbe im Fluss - 20 Jahre WeserburgWeserburg | Museum für moderne Kunst, BremenGroup
2011How to Philosophize with a HammerWhite Box, New York City, NYGroup
2011Das versprochene LandGalerie Neue Meister - Albertinum, DresdenGroup
2011Six RoomsFriedman Benda Gallery, New York City, NYGroup
2011MMK 1991-2011: 20 Jahre GegenwartMuseum für Moderne Kunst (MMK), Frankfurt/MainGroup
2011Wir sind alle AstronautenMARTa Herford, HerfordGroup
2011Vermessung der Welt - Heterotopien und Wissensräume in der KunstKunsthaus Graz, GrazGroup
2011ShanshuiKunstmuseum Luzern, LucerneGroup
2011Prospect 2011Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego - MCASD Downtown, San Diego, CAGroup
2011Die Letzte Freiheit - Von den Pionieren der Land-Art der 1960er Jahre bis zur Natur im CyberspaceLudwig Museum im Deutschherrenhaus, KoblenzGroup
2011The Magic of Clay - Ceramics in contemporary artGl Holtegaard, HolteGroup
2011Where is my Place?Fondazione Bevilacqua La Masa, VeniceGroup
2011Painters From ChinaMeulensteen (Former Max Protetch), New York City, NYGroup
2011Decade Of The RabbitWhite Rabbit Gallery, Sydney, NSWGroup
2011The Original Copy: Photography of Sculpture, 1839 to TodayKunsthaus Zürich, ZurichGroup
2011Beyond The BoundaryGallery 100, TaipeiGroup
2011I promise to love you - Caldic CollectieKunsthal Rotterdam, RotterdamGroup
2011Staging Action: Performance in Photography Since 1960MoMA - Museum of Modern Art, New York City, NYGroup
2011Fairytale - 1001 ChairsOlyvia Fine ArtGroup
2011absentTaipei Fine Arts MuseumGroup
2010Cube LightMisa Shin Gallery, TokyoSolo
2010The Unilever Series: Ai WeiweiTate Modern, London (England)Solo
2010Ai WeiweiGalerie Urs Meile, Beijing-Lucerne, LucerneSolo
2010AI WEIWEI - Hurt FeelingsChristine König Galerie, ViennaSolo
2010Ai Weiwei: Dropping the UrnMuseum of Contemporary Craft (MoCC), Portland, ORSolo
2010Ai WeiweiHaines Gallery, San Francisco, CASolo
2010Barely SomethingMuseum DKM, DuisburgSolo
2010Dropping the Urn (Ceramic Works, 5000 BCE – 2010 CE)Arcadia University Art Gallery , Glenside, PASolo
201021st Century: Art in the First DecadeQueensland Art Gallery / Gallery of Modern Art, Brisbane, QLDGroup
2010Pasajes. Viajes por el híper-espacio - LaboralCentro de Arte y Creación Industrial, GijónGroup
201029° Bienal de São PauloSão PauloGroup
2010Une Idée, une Forme, un Être - Poésie/Politique du corporelMigros Museum für Gegenwartskunst, ZurichGroup
2010Get It Louder 2010 - SharismSanlitun SOHO, BeijingGroup
2010Zeitgenössische chinesische FotografieOldenburger Kunstverein, OldenburgGroup
2010AccrochageGalerie Urs Meile, Beijing-Lucerne, BeijingGroup
2010MunChina Art Archives & Warehouse (CAAW), BeijingGroup
2010Márgenes de Silencio / Margins of SilenceCentro de Artes Visuales Helga de Alvear, CáceresGroup
2010Other Than BeautyFriedman Benda Gallery, New York City, NYGroup
2010Acconci Studio + Ai WeiweiPara/Site Art Space, Hong Kong, SARGroup
2010Para/SiteChalk Horse Gallery, Sydney, NSWGroup
2010Clouds:Power of Asian Contemporary ArtSoka Art Center - Beijing, BeijingGroup
2010Contemplating the VoidSolomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York City, NYGroup
2010Rem(a)indersGalleria Continua - Beijing, BeijingGroup
2010Lost And FoundNeugerriemschneider, BerlinGroup
2010Radical ConceptualMuseum für Moderne Kunst (MMK), Frankfurt/MainGroup
2010Of Cabbages and KingsFriedman Benda Gallery, New York City, NYGroup
20103+X Around Them, Things AroundChina Art Archives and WarehouseGroup
2010Presidio HabitatsPresidio Habitats EPresidio Habitats Exhibition Pavilion, Fort Scott Districthibition Pavilion, Fort Scott DistrictGroup
2009With Milk_find something everybody can usePavilion Mies van der Rohe, BarcelonaSolo
2009Ai Weiwei - World MapGalleri Faurschou - Beijing, BeijingSolo
2009Ai WeiweiHaus der Kunst München, MunichSolo
2009Ai Weiwei: According to what?Mori Art Museum, TokyoSolo
2009Ai WeiweiHerzliya Museum of Contemporary Art, HerzliyaSolo
2009Ai WeiweiFriedman Benda Gallery, New York City, NYSolo
2009Ai Weiwei: New York Photographs 1983-1993Three Shadows Photography Art Centre, BeijingSolo
2009Santa's Workshop ShanghaiJames Cohan Gallery - Shanghai, ShanghaiGroup
2009Beg Borrow and StealRubell Family Collection, Miami, FLGroup
2009Die Neue Galerie – Auftritt im Schloss!Museum Schloss Wilhelmshöhe, KasselGroup
2009Ein Bild ist ein Bild | The WUNDERkammer (higgledy piggledy)Alexander Ochs Galleries Berlin | Beijing, BerlinGroup
2009Faszination des Fremden: China - Japan - Europa - Hetjens-MuseumDeutsches Keramikmuseum, DusseldorfGroup
2009When ideas become form - 30 Jahre GalerieGalerie Dr. Dorothea van der Koelen, MainzGroup
2009Pete and Repeat - Works from the Zabludowicz CollectionZabludowicz Collection London, London (England)Group
2009A Tribute To Ron WarrenMary Boone Gallery - 745 Fifth Avenue, New York City, NYGroup
2009A Tribute To Ron WarrenMary Boone Gallery - 541 West 24 Street, New York City, NYGroup
2009Summer Group ShowFriedman Benda Gallery, New York City, NYGroup
2009When Ideas Become Form – 30 Years of GalleryLa Galleria Dorothea van der Koelen - Venedig, VeniceGroup
2009The Making of ArtSchirn Kunsthalle, Frankfurt/MainGroup
2009The Big World: Recent Art from ChinaChinablue Gallery, BeijingGroup
2009United TechnologiesLismore Castle Arts, Lismore, Co. WaterfordGroup
2009The China ProjectQueensland Art Gallery / Gallery of Modern Art, Brisbane, QLDGroup
2009Mahjong: Contemporary Chinese Art from the Sigg CollectionPeabody Essex Museum, Salem, MAGroup
2009Adelaide Film FestivalIntoxicated Demons, BerlinGroup
2009Stairway to Heaven: From Chinese Streets to Monuments and SkyscrapersH&R Block Artspace at Kansas City Art Institute, Kansas City, MOGroup
2009Action - Camera: Beijing Performance PhotographyThe Morris and Helen Belkin Art Gallery, Vancouver, BCGroup
2008Ai Weiwei: FairytaleEmerson Gallery at Hamilton College, Clinton, NYSolo
2008Ai Weiwei - FairytaleIMA Institute of Modern Art, Brisbane, QLDSolo
2008Ai WeiweiGallery Hyundai, SeoulSolo
2008Ai Weiwei - Under ConstructionCampbelltown Arts Centre, Campbelltown, NSWSolo
2008Ai Weiwei - Under ConstructionSherman Contemporary Art Foundation - SCAF, Sydney, NSWSolo
2008IlluminationMary Boone Gallery - 745 Fifth Avenue, New York City, NYSolo
2008Ai WeiweiMary Boone Gallery - 541 West 24 Street, New York City, NYSolo
2008Ai WeiweiGroninger Museum, GroningenSolo
2008Asian Dub PhotographyFondazione Cassa di Risparmio di Modena, ModenaGroup
2008A Question Of Evidence - T-B A21Thyssen-Bornemisza Art Contemporary, ViennaGroup
2008China: Construção – DesconstruçãoMuseu de Arte de São Paulo Assis Chateaubriand - MASP, São PauloGroup
2008China: Construction / DeconstructionChinablue Gallery, BeijingGroup
20082008 Chinese Contemporary Art AwardsUCCA - Ullens Center for Contemporary Art, BeijingGroup
2008Second Lives: Remixing the OrdinaryMuseum of Arts & Design, New York City, NYGroup
2008Liverpool Biennial of Contemporary ArtLiverpool (England)Group
2008Mahjong: Contemporary Chinese Art from the Sigg CollectionBerkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive BAM/PFA, Berkeley, CAGroup
2008EarthquakeArt Channel, BeijingGroup
2008Material TerrainHaines Gallery, San Francisco, CAGroup
2008Half-Life of a Dream: Contemporary Chinese Art from the Logan CollectionSan Francisco Museum of Modern Art - SFMOMA, San Francisco, CAGroup
2008from nature – summer group showCarolina Nitsch, New York City, NYGroup
2008FragileHoet Bekaert Gallery, GentGroup
2008Stairway to HeavenBates College Museum of Arts, Lewiston, MEGroup
2008China Power Station:Part IIIMUDAM - Musée d’Art Moderne Grand-Duc Jean, LuxembourgGroup
2008Delirious BeijingPKM GALLERY - Beijing, BeijingGroup
2008Community of TastesIberia Art Center for Contemporary Art, BeijingGroup
2008Body MediaShanghai Duolun Museum of Modern Art, ShanghaiGroup
2008AccrochageGalerie Urs Meile, Beijing-Lucerne, LucerneGroup
2008Selections from the Hara Museum´s Permanent CollectionHara Museum of Contemporary Art, TokyoGroup
2008Rojo a parte - Arte contemporáneo chino de la Colección SiggFundación Joan Miró, BarcelonaGroup
2008NEW VISTA - The Phenomenon of Post-Tradition in Contemporary ArtWHITE SPACE BEIJING, BeijingGroup
2008Altered TraditionsEthan Cohen Fine Arts, New York City, NYGroup
2008Branded and On DisplayTufts University Art Gallery, Medford, MAGroup
2007Traveling LandscapeAedesLand, BerlinSolo
2007Ai WeiweiGalerie Urs Meile, Beijing-Lucerne, LucerneSolo
2007Fortunate Objects: Selections from the Ella Fontanals Cisneros CollectionCIFO - Cisneros Fontanals Art Foundation, Miami, FLGroup
2007China NowCobra Museum, AmstelveenGroup
2007Chinese Contemporary Art. La lunga marcia dell'avanguardiaVilla Croce Museo d´Arte Contemporanea, GenoaGroup
2007NETChambers Fine Art - Beijing, BeijingGroup
2007MADE in CHINA - the Estella collectionThe Israel Museum, JerusalemGroup
2007Branded and On DisplayUlrich Museum of Art, Wichita, KSGroup
2007Mahjong - Chinesische Gegenwartskunst aus der Sammlung SiggMuseum der Moderne Salzburg Mönchsberg, SalzburgGroup
2007Bordeline/Moving Images 2007Borderline, BeijingGroup
2007Metamorphosis - The Generation of Transformation in Chinese Contemporary ArtTampere Art Museum, TampereGroup
2007Documenta 12Documenta, KasselGroup
2007China Welcomes You...Kunsthaus Graz, GrazGroup
2007What About Sculpture?Chambers Fine Art - New YorkGroup
2007shooting backT-B A21 - Thyssen-Bornemisza Art Contemporary, ViennaGroup
2007Dragon's EvolutionChinaSquare - Beijing, BeijingGroup
2007Dragon’s EvolutionChinaSquare - New York,Group
2007The Last Seduction: A Welcome Surrender To BeautyCarrie Secrist Gallery, Chicago, ILGroup
2007Forged RealitiesBoers-Li Gallery, BeijingGroup
2007MADE in CHINA - the Estella collectionLouisiana Museum of Modern Art, HumlebækGroup
2007The Year of the Golden Pig - Contemporary Chinese Art from the Sigg CollectionLewis Glucksman Gallery, CorkGroup
2007We are your FutureEthan Cohen Fine Arts, New York City, NYGroup
2007Moscow Biennale of contemporary artMoscowGroup
2007Branded and On DisplayKrannert Art Museum, Champaign, ILGroup
2007A Continuous DialogueGalleria Continua ,San GimignanoGroup
2006Ai Weiwei - FragmentsGalerie Urs Meile, Beijing-Lucerne, BeijingSolo
2006Altered, Stitched & GatheredMoMA PS1, New York City, NYGroup
2006APT5 - The 5th Asia–Pacific Triennial of Contemporary ArtBrisbane, QLDGroup
2006This Is Not For You. Diskurse der SkulpturT-B A21 - Thyssen-Bornemisza Art Contemporary, ViennaGroup
2006Between Past and Future: New Photography and Video from ChinaNasher Museum of Art, Durham, NCGroup
2006China Power Station: Part ISerpentine Gallery, London (England)Group
2006Misleading TrailsSamek Art Gallery , Lewisburg, PAGroup
2006China now - Kunst in Zeiten des UmbruchsSammlung Essl - Kunsthaus, KlosterneuburgGroup
2006Mahjong - Chinesische Gegenwartskunst aus der Sammlung SiggHamburger Kunsthalle, HamburgGroup
2006CityscapesKunsthaus Hamburg, HamburgGroup
2006MOCA Envisage-Entry gateMOCA Shanghai, ShanghaiGroup
2006A Continuous DialogueGalleria Continua - Beijing, BeijingGroup
2006Fill in the blanksChina Art Archives & Warehouse (CAAW), BeijingGroup
2006Misleading TrailsSchick Art Gallery, Skidmore College, Saratoga Springs, NYGroup
2006China Contemporary - Architecture, photography and visual cultureNAI - Netherlands Architecture Institute, RotterdamGroup
2006Biennale of Sydney, Zones of ContactArt Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, NSWGroup
200615th Biennale of Sydney 2006Sydney, NSWGroup
2006Black & BlueRobert Miller Gallery, New York City, NYGroup
2006Serge Spitzer und Ai WeiWei - EroberungMuseum für Moderne Kunst (MMK), Frankfurt/MainGroup
2006Beaufort 02OostendeGroup
2006Antiquity ModernityEthan Cohen Fine Arts, New York City, NYGroup
2006Between Past and Future: New Photography and Video from ChinaHaus der Kulturen der Welt, BerlinGroup
2006Regeneration: Contemporary Chinese Art From China and the USWilliams College Museum of Art, Williamstown, MAGroup
2005Chinese Art InvasionEthan Cohen Fine Arts, New York City, NYGroup
2005Tiny HugeCarrie Secrist Gallery, Chicago, ILGroup
2005The 2nd Guangzhou TriennialGuangzhou Triennial, Guangzhou, GuangdongGroup
2005Misleading TrailsVanderbilt University Fine Arts Gallery, Nashville, TNGroup
2005Regeneration - Contemporary Chinese Art from China and the U.S.Arizona State University Art Museum, Tempe, AZGroup
2005Convergence at E116° /N40 ° , Beijing 2005 - International Contemporary Art ExhibitionChina Contemporary Art Institute, BeijingGroup
2005Xiānfēng! - Chinese avant-gardeMuseum Beelden aan Zee, ScheveningenGroup
2005Mahjong - Chinesische GegenwartskunstKunstmuseum Bern, BernGroup
2005Misleading TrailsNIU Art Museum - Northern Illinois University, DeKalb, ILGroup
2004Ai WeiweiRobert Miller Gallery, New York City, NYSolo
2004Ai WeiweiKunsthalle Bern, BernSolo
2004Regeneration - Contemporary Chinese ArtDavid Winton Bell Gallery, Providence, RIGroup
2004Misleading TrailsChina Art Archives & Warehouse (CAAW), BeijingGroup
2004On the EdgeEthan Cohen Fine Arts, New York City, NYGroup
2004Between Past and Future: New Photography and Video from ChinaAsia Society and Museum, New York City, NYGroup
2004Between Past and Future: New Photography and Video From ChinaICP - International Center of Photography, New York City, NYGroup
2004SilknetGalerie Urs Meile, Beijing-Lucerne, LucerneGroup
2004Persona3China Art Archives & Warehouse (CAAW), BeijingGroup
2004Le printemps de chineCrac Alsace, AltkirchGroup
2004Regeneration: Contemporary Chinese Art From China and the USSamek Art Gallery , Lewisburg, PAGroup
2004CaermerkloosterProvinciaal Centrum voor Kunst en Cultur, Gent, BelgiumSolo
2004Chinese Object: Dreams & ObsessionsSalvatore Ferragamo Gallery, New York, NYGroup
2003Ai WeiweiGalerie Urs Meile, Beijing-Lucerne, LucerneSolo
2003New Year and New Location ExhibitionEASTLINK Gallery, ShanghaiGroup
2003New Zone: Chinese ArtZacheta National Gallery of Art, Warsaw, PolandGroup
2003Galerie Rudolfinum, Praha, Czech RepublicA Strange Heaven: Contemporary Chinese PhotographyGroup
2003Junction. Chinese Contemporary Architecture of ArtLianyang Architecture Art Museum, Shanghai, ChinaGroup
2002Cement: Marginal Space in Contemporary Chinese ArtChambers Fine Art - New YorkGroup
2002Art from a Changing World, Ludwig Forum for International ArtHenie Onstad Kunstsenter, Hoevikodden, NorwayGroup
20021st Guangzhou Triennale 2002Guangdong Museum of Art, Guangzhou, ChinaGroup
2002China - Tradition und ModerneMuseum Ludwig Galerie Oberhausen, Oberhausen, GermanyGroup
2001TAKE PART II - zeitgenoessische chinesische KunstGalerie Urs Meile, Beijing-Lucerne, LucerneGroup
2001TAKE PART - Zeitgenössische Chinesische KunstGalerie Urs Meile, Beijing-Lucerne, LucerneGroup
2001TU MU. Young Chinese ArchitectureAedes Galerie, Berlin, GermanyGroup
2000Photography as fine artgalerie skala, CologneGroup
2000Portraits, figures, couples and groupsBizArt, Shanghai (closed)Group
2000Fuck OffEASTLINK Gallery, ShanghaiGroup
2000New Chinese PhotographyEthan Cohen Fine Arts, New York City, NYGroup
2000Our Chinese FriendsACC Galerie and Galerie der Bauhaus-Universität , Weimar, GermanyGroup
1999Eastlink Opening ExhibitionEASTLINK Gallery, ShanghaiGroup
1999Johann KorecGalerie Susanne Zander, CologneGroup
1999spectacles societiesGalerie 52 | Heidrun Quinque-Wessels, BerlinGroup
1999Concepts, Colors and PassionsChina Art Archives & Warehouse (CAAW), BeijingGroup
199948th International Art Exhibition Venice Biennale / Biennale di VeneziaVeniceGroup
1999Innovations Part IChina Art Archives & Warehouse (CAAW), BeijingGroup
1999Modern China Art Foundation CollectionProvinciaal Centrum voor Kunst en Cultuur, Gent, BelgiumGroup
1998Double Kitsch: Painters from ChinaMax Protetch, New York, NYGroup
1997A Point of Contact, Korean, Chinese, Japanese Contemporary ArtDaegu Art & Culture Hall, Taegu, KoreaGroup
1996Begegnung mit ChinaLudwig Forum für Internationale Kunst, Aachen, GermanyGroup
1995CONFIGURA 2 - Dialog der KulturenAngermuseum Erfurt, ErfurtGroup
1995Change-Chinese Contemporary Art ExhibitionGoteborg Museum, Goteborg, SwedenGroup
1993Chinese Contemporary Art – The Stars 15 YearsTokyo Gallery, Tokyo, JapanGroup
1989The Star: Ten YearsHanart Gallery, Hong KongGroup
1989The Stars: Ten YearsHanart Gallery, Taipei, TaiwanGroup
1988Old Shoes: Safe SexArt Waves Gallery, New York, NYSolo
1987The Star at Harvard: Chinese Dissident ArtFairbank Center for East Asian Research, Harvard University, Cambridge, MAGroup
1986China's New ExpressionMunicipal Gallery, New York, NYGroup
1986Avant-Garde Chinese ArtAlbany University Art Museum, New York, NYGroup
19802nd Star ExhibitionNational Art Museum of China, Beijing, ChinaGroup
19791st Star Exhibitionoutside the National Art Museum of China, Beijing, ChinaGroup