This autumn, starting 23 September 2016 and running till 22 January 2017, Palazzo Strozzi in Florence will present Italy’s first major retrospective dedicated to one of the world’s most celebrated and influential contemporary artists: “Ai Weiwei. Libero”
A dissident artist with a leading voice, Ai Weiwei is known world-wide as much for his challenging contemporary art practice as for his political activism. Ai Weiwei will be the first artist to exhibit across the entirety of the Palazzo Strozzi spaces, presenting a series of new and major works from the façade of the building and the courtyard to the piano nobile and the Strozzina gallery. Mirroring the artist’s relationship between tradition and modernity, key works will be hung in response to the architecture of the Palazzo Strozzi, a 15th century palace built as a political statement, and is considered to embody the history of the city of Florence.
This major exhibition will include key monumental installations, sculptures and objects, as well as videos and photography series produced throughout his career. These range from his years living in New York 1980s and ’90s when he discovered his ‘masters’ Andy Warhol and Marcel Duchamp, to the large iconic assemblages works from the early 2000s consisting of objects such as bicycles and stools, to his recent controversial and engaged works such as portraits of political dissidents built with LEGO bricks, and his projects on migration in the Mediterranean region.
Over the past twenty years, Ai Weiwei has become a leading voice on the international art scene and China’s most famous living artist. Known for his political activism and meticulous artistic research, Ai Weiwei has also become a symbol of resistance against censorship. The show will offer the opportunity to explore Ai Weiwei’s creative genius but also to understand his personal narrative, offering critical insight to Ai Weiwei’s ambiguous relations with his native China. Ai Weiwei denounces the inconsistencies and gaps between the individual and the community in today’s world and has a profound sense of belonging, as illustrated by his use of traditional materials and techniques. Equally, a strong sense of rebellion informs his interpretations of traditional Chinese images and metaphors.