Ai Weiwei is a world-famous contemporary artist from China. He works in a variety of media and has been a vocal critic of human rights issues in China. He spent time during his childhood forced into re-education camps because his father, Ai Quing, also an artist, had been accused of being a “Rightist” by the government of China. Ai Weiwei later attended the Film Academy in Beijing, where he studied animation. After moving to New York, he supported himself by drawing portraits of people on the street, and was influenced by cultural figures like Andy Warhol and Allen Ginsberg. He attended further study at the Art School League of New York and the Parsons School of Design.
Among his most famous art works are a sequence of photographs of him dropping and shattering an urn, which was supposedly 2000 years old, and a surveillance camera sculpted in marble. His work shows a relentless concern for civil liberties and freedom of expression. In 2011, the Chinese authorities detained him for 81 days. He celebrated the second anniversary of his release in 2013 by making his first album of music, entitled ‘The Divine Comedy’. In 2008, he worked as an artist consultant for the Beijing Olympic stadium.