Lecture: Ai Weiwei: Between Mao and Warhol

October 23, 2019
6:30 pm
Museum lobby

In this lecture, John J. Curley, associate professor of modern and contemporary art at Wake Forest University, will
discuss the hybridity of Ai Weiwei’s artistic practice. In many of his works, Ai emulates Western exemplars like Andy Warhol and Marcel Duchamp but infuses these models with techniques learned from communist propaganda during the Chinese Cultural Revolution. Ai’s practice thus transforms Duchamp’s and Warhol’s postures of critical ambiguity into clear political statements, allowing his works to be read as both works of contemporary art and social activism.

Free and open to the public. In conjunction with the exhibition Ai Weiwei: Bare Life. Although the Museum will close at 5 pm on the date of the program, the exhibition will open at 6 pm for viewing prior to the lecture.

About the Speaker

John J. Curley (Duke University, AB; Yale University, PhD) teaches courses in 20th- and 21st-century American and European art, as well as the history of photography. His first book, A Conspiracy of Images: Andy Warhol, Gerhard Richter, and the Art of the Cold War explores the ways in which postwar art in both the United States and Europe intervenes into larger realms of visuality, the mass media, and politics, especially during the period of the Cold War. He has also published essays on Willem de Kooning, Lothar Baumgarten, and on World War II photography in Life magazine. His research has been supported by the Getty Research Institute, the Yale Center for British Art, and the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD), among others.

Image credit

Ai Weiwei (Chinese, b. 1957), Dropping a Han Dynasty Urn, 2015. LEGO bricks, triptych, 94 1/2 x 78 3/4 x 1 3/16" (240 x 200 x 3 cm) each. Courtesy of Ai Weiwei Studio.