A new Melbourne exhibit brings together the works of two of the most important, paradigm-smashing artists of the last fifty years.

A new Melbourne exhibit brings together the works of two of the most important, paradigm-smashing artists of the last fifty years.

Andy Warhol and Ai Weiwei have more in common than meets the eye. Both are era-defining artists, as much inspired by the culture of their day as they seek to challenge it. They also love cats.

The similarities between them have inspired a new art exhibit at the National Gallery of Victoria in Melbourne, featuring over 320 of their respective works. The exhibit explores the influence both men have had on popular culture, how their work reflects and inspires the world around them, and where both intersect and parallel one another as artists.

Works included in the exhibit include Warhol’s famous Three Marilyns, Flowers and Brillo Boxes, along with some of his lesser-seen commercial work from early in his career. Weiwei’s featured work represents the entirety of his career, including photography, drawings and sculpture, all capped by his latest installation piece: Letgo Room. A tribute to Australian human rights activists, it’s made entirely from fake Lego – as Lego refused his request for official ones.

Photo: John Gollings

Photo: John Gollings

Weiwei has had a long affinity for Warhol. He has said that Warhol directly inspired his creative approach and the first book he purchased upon moving to New York City in 1981 was The Philosophy of Andy Warhol (From A to B & Back Again). Weiwei considers the joint exhibit an honour, calling it “a great privilege for me as an artist.”

As for the cats, there’s a separate, free exhibition running concurrently at the NGV children’s galleries chronicling their mutual love  for the furry felines. Warhol famously lived with more than twenty cats called Sam (and one called Hester), while Weiwei owns so many that his adoration for the things has even inspired its own Tumblr. The exhibit, titled Studio Cats, compiles rarely seen cat drawings from Warhol, interactive activities inspired by both artists, and an array of their cat-themed work. Apparently it’s for the kids… but we won’t judge.

Andy Warhol | Ai Weiwei runs December 11 to April 24 at the National Gallery of Victoria, before transferring to the Andy Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh June 4. More information can be found here.

Photo: Brooke Holm

Photo: Brooke Holm

 

So Happy 1950s, ink, graphite and anilinedye on paper; 24.8 x 31.8 cm; The Andy Warhol Museum, Pittsburgh Founding Collection, Contribution; The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Inc.;  (1998.1.1404); © 2015 The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Inc./ARS, New York. Licensed by Viscopy, Sydney.

So Happy 1950s
Ink, graphite and anilinedye on paper; 24.8 x 31.8 cm; The Andy Warhol Museum, Pittsburgh Founding Collection, Contribution; The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Inc.; (1998.1.1404); © 2015 The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Inc./ARS, New York. Licensed by Viscopy, Sydney.

 

Tiananmen Square, Beijing, China 1995; from the Study of Perspective series 1995–2011; gelatin silver photograph; various dimensions; Ai Weiwei Studio; © Ai Weiwei

Tiananmen Square, Beijing, China 1995
From the Study of Perspective series 1995–2011; gelatin silver photograph; various dimensions; Ai Weiwei Studio; © Ai Weiwei

 

Fabis Statue of Liberty 1986 Acrylic and silkscreen ink on linen; 127.0 x 177.8 cm; The Andy Warhol Museum, Pittsburgh; Founding Collection, Contribution The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Inc.; © 2015 The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Inc./ARS, New York. Licensed by Viscopy, Sydney

Fabis Statue of Liberty 1986
Acrylic and silkscreen ink on linen; 127.0 x 177.8 cm; The Andy Warhol Museum, Pittsburgh; Founding Collection, Contribution The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Inc.; © 2015 The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Inc./ARS, New York. Licensed by Viscopy, Sydney.

 

Dropping a Han Dynasty Urn 1995; 3 silver gelatin photographs; 148.0 x 120.0 cm each (triptych); Ai Weiwei Studio; © Ai Weiwei

Dropping a Han Dynasty Urn 1995
3 silver gelatin photographs; 148.0 x 120.0 cm each (triptych); Ai Weiwei Studio; © Ai Weiwei

 

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