Making/Breaking Traditions: Teachers of Ai Weiwei


When Ai Weiwei enrolled at the Art Students League from 1983 to 1986, 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 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.

Making/Breaking Traditions: Teachers of Ai Weiwei
October 20–November 9, 2014
Phyllis Harriman Mason Gallery
The Art Students League of New York

Yasuo Kuniyoshi, Bananas and Plums, 1927.


Will Barnet, Portrait of Djordje Milicevic, 1967.

Martin_CrowwithNo Mouth1989

Knox Martin, Crow With No Mouth, 1989. Acrylic on linen, 80 x 65 in.
©Knox Martin/Licensed by VAGA, New York, NY


Bruce Dorfman, Chinatown, 2013. Combined mediums, 63 x 40 x 3 in.

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