Ai Weiwei's New York Photographs

Submerged in the East Village avant-garde scene, Chinese artist and activist Ai Weiwei documented his surroundings for over a decade
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Ai Weiwei, Mirror (1987)

1 / 8 Ai Weiwei, Mirror (1987)

Ai Weiwei, Williamsburg, Brooklyn (1983)

2 / 8 Ai Weiwei, Williamsburg, Brooklyn (1983)

Ai Weiwei, Outside Tompkins Square Park (1986)

3 / 8 Ai Weiwei, Outside Tompkins Square Park (1986)

Ai Weiwei, Self Portrait (1987)

4 / 8 Ai Weiwei, Self Portrait (1987)

Ai Weiwei, Xu Bing, East 7th Street Apartment (1993)

5 / 8 Ai Weiwei, Xu Bing, East 7th Street Apartment (1993)

Ai Weiwei, Robert Frank & Allen Ginsberg (1989)

6 / 8 Ai Weiwei, Robert Frank & Allen Ginsberg (1989)

Ai Weiwei, Bill Clinton at his last campaign stop in New York (1992)

7 / 8 Ai Weiwei, Bill Clinton at his last campaign stop in New York (1992)

Ai Weiwei, Washington Square Park Protest (1988)

8 / 8 Ai Weiwei, Washington Square Park Protest (1988)


Before becoming the internationally renowned artist he is today, Chinese activist Ai Weiwei lived in a tiny apartment in New York's East Village amongst the expatriate Chinese community.

For a decade, between 1983 and 1993, he documented the people, events and development of his own work. These images became a 10,000 strong series, New York Photographs, showing riots in Washington Square, other artists and intellectuals at work and self portraits captured amid the busy city.

This time spent submerged in the New York avant-garde scene formed the beginnings of his conceptual practice and gave way to some of his most successful works such as his Study in Perspective Series (1999-2003).

Over 200 photographs selected by Ai Weiwei from his New York Photographs series are on show for the first time outside of China at the Asia Society Museum in New York this summer (until 14 August).


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