Good Politics, Bad Art?

Good Politics, Bad Art?

“The political causes that Ai embraces are noble. This cannot be said often enough. But when he takes his place inside the Hirshhorn Museum, with its Matisses and Brancusis and Mondrians, I cannot help but feel that he poses a threat to the artistic universe he dreams of inhabiting. This is not a question of left versus right, or of communist versus capitalist, or of political art versus art for art’s sake. It is a question of what an artist is actually doing when he makes a work of art.”

“Ai may be a hero when it comes to speaking out for the victims of the Sichuan earthquake, but when he talks about his art he is jeeringly manipulative. It is hard to have patience for an artist who justifies his work with references to Mickey Mouse.”

— “Ai Weiwei: Wonderful dissident, terrible artist,” Jed Perl, The New Republic

“Today we need all the great art and all the political agitation we can get. But it may be too much to expect that both will emanate with any frequency from the same person.”

— “The Message Over the Medium,”  Roberta Smith, New York Times


“Ai Weiwei: According to What? October 7, 2012 to February 24, 2013,” Hirshhorn Museum


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Image by Mike Licht. Download a copy here. Creative Commons license; credit Mike Licht,

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