Australia’s Don’t-miss Summer Exhibition

  • A portrait of Ai Weiwei by Gao Yuan.

    A portrait of Ai Weiwei by Gao Yuan.

  • Andy Warhol in Tiananmen Square shot by Christopher Makos in 1982.

    Andy Warhol in Tiananmen Square shot by Christopher Makos in 1982.

  • A new iteration of Ai's Forever Bicycles installation opens the exhibition with some 1,500 hanging bikes.

    A new iteration of Ai's Forever Bicycles installation opens the exhibition with some 1,500 hanging bikes.

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When Ai Weiwei moved to the United States in 1981, the first book he purchased was The Philosophy of Andy Warhol (from A to B & Back Again). It was the start of the many confluences of the 20th-century’s king of Pop and the 21st’s art hero of activism, explored in Andy Warhol/Ai Weiwei, the blockbuster summer exhibit of Melbourne’s National Gallery of Victoria. With more than 300 works, it’s the biggest exhibition NGV has ever staged, covering its entire ground floor with works spanning five decades and all mediums: from Warhol’s seminal prints—Campbell’s Soup and Three Marilyns among them—to his videos and smaller works previously unseen, and from Ai’s early drawings and striking self-portraits to works commissioned just for this (including a new installation of his Forever Bicycles series). The exhibit shows the many similarities between the two artists, tackling issues of politics, pop culture, history, and even social media. Ai is known for his tweets and online outcries, but are Warhol’s 500 Polaroids of his celebrity friend circle not an early iteration of photo-sharing too? (Dec. 11-Apr. 24, 2016) —Gabrielle Lipton

This article originally appeared in the December/January print issue of DestinAsian magazine (“Men of the Times”)

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