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MCASD Purchases Work By Detained Chinese Artist Ai Weiwei

Two chairs from Chinese artist Ai Weiwei's

Above: Two chairs from Chinese artist Ai Weiwei's "Marble Chair" series, currently on view at MCASD.

The work of internationally recognized artist Ai Weiwei is now represented in the permanent collection of the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego. Ai has been in the news since he was detained by Chinese authorities on April 3rd at the Beijing airport. The artist's continued incarceration has inspired national and international protests.

MCASD will purchase two examples of Ai Weiwei's "Marble Chair," (2010) which are currently on view in the exhibit "Prospect 2011." The work was chosen for purchase by the museum's International Collectors and Contemporary Collectors group in an annual vote for new acquisitions. Members of the International Collectors were among the last groups to visit Ai Weiwei's Beijing studio during a collecting trip in November 2010.

The two chairs are carved from a single block of marble. The museum's press release describes them this way:

This startling translation and memorializing of a piece of furniture raises questions of history, memory, and modernization. "Marble Chair" suggests that the rush of progress takes its toll not only on the people, but also on the culture that becomes lost among the change. The empty chair evokes the absent figure, an effect made more disturbing due to the artist's recent incarceration by the Chinese government.

MCASD is staging a silent protest of Ai's detainment on Thursday, May 19 at its downtown location.

MCASD also purchased a billowing canvas work by African-American artist Sam Gilliam called "Dance Me, Dance You 2 #1" (2009) and a rare polished resin sphere by Pasadena-based artist Helen Pashgian.

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