Son of the famous Chinese dissident poet Ai Qing, Ai Weiwei is born in Beijing in 1957.
Ai Weiwei is one of China’s most prominent conceptual artist, photographer, curator, and prolific blogger with a rising profile in the architecture world since, along with the Swiss architects Herzog and De Meuron, he designed the Olympic National Stadium known as the “Bird’s Nest” for the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing.
Ai Weiwei studied at the Beijing Film Academy with famous Chinese directors Chen Kaige and Zhang Yimou. As an anchorman in the first Chinese avant-garde-movement and often referred to as the Andy Warhol of China, he was involved, at the end of the seventies, in several art and literature groups (“Stars” & “Today”) repressed by the Chinese government. In 1981, he left for the U.S. ; he studied in Pennsylvania, Berkeley and at the Parsons School of Design in New York. He lived in the U.S until 1993, then returned to China.
In 1994, with the curator Feng Boyi, he published the "Black Cover Book "dealing with modern art defending also his political ideas; Ai Weiwei continued publishing, releasing the "White Cover Book" in 1995 and the "Grey Cover Book" in 1997. In the end of the nineties he founded the "China Art Archives and Warehouse" in Beijing to support modern Chinese art and up-and-coming generation of artists in China. In 1999, he opened his own studio in Beijing : Fake Design. In 2000, he co-curated with Feng Boyi the exhibition “Fuck Off” in Shanghai, showing his and others contemporary works of art within the country. In 2003, he started his collaboration with the Swiss architects Herzog & de Meuron and co-founded The Modern Chinese Art Foundation in 2007.
In 2008, he received a lifetime achievement award at The Chinese Contemporary Art Awards. Ai Weiwei’s works are presented in the most prestigious places : the Museum of Modern Art in San Francisco, the Documenta in Kassel (where he invited 1001 of his fellow contrymen and created an installation with 1001 doors and windows from destroyed Ming & Qing Dynasty houses), the Venice Biennial, the Hara Museum of Contemporary Art in Tokyo, the Haus der Kunst in Munich with the exhibition “So Sorry”, and various galleries in New York and all over the world.
Furthermore, Ai Weiwei leads a fierce battle in defense of the victims of the Szechuan earthquake.
More generally, through his blog or Twitter, he expresses his involvement for issues related to freedom, lies, memory…
On the Internet a lot of young people call him “Ai Weilai” a play on words literally meaning “ he who loves the future”.