The Andy Warhol Museum
August 20
2 p.m.

Newsflash! The record-breaking Andy Warhol | Ai Weiwei exhibit, with over 350 works of art and media that explore these two titans of modern art, has been extended through September 11th at The Andy Warhol Museum.

This Saturday, take the opportunity to learn more about Ai Weiwei, the venerable Chinese artist, at a free public discussion, Ai Weiwei in Contemporary China. What drives the creator of Beijing’s famous Olympics Bird’s Nest stadium to carve surveillance cameras out of marble, or to commission 100 million hand-painted sunflower seeds? What are these provocative works of art in response to, and how do they fit into contemporary Chinese society?

Weiwei grew up in exile with his family, banished to the hinterlands for his father’s poetry. For decades his art has tweaked Chinese authorities. In 1994, Ai painted a Coca-Cola logo on a two-thousand-year-old Han Dynasty urn. One year later, he photographed himself defacing another urn, this time by dropping it to the floor.

Ai Weiwei Dropping a Han Dynasty Urn, 1995, Ai Weiwei.
Ai Weiwei Dropping a Han Dynasty Urn, 1995, Ai Weiwei.

In 2008, Ai relentlessly gathered and posted online the names of thousands of Chinese schoolchildren who died in during an earthquake in Sichuan, victims of shoddy school construction. The next year, he hung thousands of children’s backpacks in honor of the victims. In 2011, Ai was jailed for 81 days on trumped-up charges of tax evasion. In 2015, after receiving his passport back, the artist took up temporary residence in Berlin.

The Warhol’s associate curator of art, Jessica Beck, will moderate a panel that will include art historian and gallery director, Cindy Lisica; director of contemporary Chinese art organization AW Asia, Taliesin Thomas; and Asian Studies Center associate at the University of Pittsburgh, John Wagner Givens.

Admission to the lecture is free. The event is co-sponsored by the University of Pittsburgh’s Asian Studies Center.

Looking for more events? Read our 10 Pittsburgh events not to miss in AugustEverything you need to know about Pittsburgh concerts in August and Top 10 things for families to do in August in Pittsburgh feature stories.

Brian Conway is a writer and photographer whose articles have appeared in the Chicago Tribune and local publications. In his free time, he operates Tripsburgh. Brian lives in the South Side.