Two worlds will collide and connect in this year’s summer exhibition at the National Gallery of Victoria. Works by one of the most significant artists of the 20th century, Andy Warhol, will be shown alongside one of the most significant artists of this century, China’s Ai Weiwei.
NGV director Tony Ellwood said the artistic unification had never happened before.
“This exhibition highlights the shared vision and defined playfulness of the two influential artists,” Ellwood says.
“It’s an exhibition that has been developed over several years and through close collaboration with the estate of Andy Warhol and with Ai Weiwei.”
More than 300 works will be on display, taking up the entire ground floor of the NGV, including the kids’ spaces, which will be devoted to interactive displays that highlight both artists’ love for cats.
It will also include major new commissions that have never been seen by Ai, along with paintings, sculptures, film, photography, publishing and social media where Ai has a massive presence.
“It will be the most comprehensive exhibition by Ai Weiwei ever seen in Australia,” Ellwood says.
Weiwei lived in the US from 1981-1993 and, although he never met Warhol, he was a huge influence on the Beijing-based artist. His book The Philosophy of Andy Warhol was the first book Ai read in English, and many of his artworks show direct inspiration from Warhol.
In a video made specifically for the exhibition’s launch, Ai said: “I believe this is a very interesting and important exhibition and an honour for me to have the opportunity to be exhibited alongside Andy Warhol. This is a great privilege for me as an artist.”
As curator Max Delany commented, the artists may never have met but they lived in the same district of New York, attended many of the same parties and shared friends.