October 20, 2014 through November 9, 2014
When Ai Weiwei enrolled at The Art Students League from 1983-86, he encountered a multi-generational community of dedicated teachers and students, deeply rooted in the mid -twentieth century avant-garde. After moving to the United States in 1981, and studying briefly at Parsons School of Design, Weiwei began taking classes with League instructors Richard Pousette-Dart, Bruce Dorfman, and Knox Martin. Featuring Weiwei’s work alongside his instructors and their teachers Vaclav Vytlacil, Will Barnet, and Yasuo Kuniyoshi, this exhibition, Making/Breaking Traditions: Teachers of Ai Weiwei, explores the atmosphere at the League in the 1980s. Works in a variety of media trace creative lineages and raise questions about artistic tradition, self-expression, and creative freedom.
Richard Pousette-Dart first came to the Art Students League in the late 1930s, attending open sketching sessions as a path to refining his sculpture. From 1980 to 1986 he returned to The League as an instructor, a role that made an impression on the young Ai Weiwei, who found inspiration in the teaching of the established painter.
Works on view include The Dance V, 1937 and Summer of Great Ochre, 1989-90, both courtesy of the Richard Pousette-Dart Estate. Also on view are archival materials, including a statement from Ai Weiwei to Richard Pousette-Dart, ca. 1982, lent by The Richard Pousette-Dart Foundation.