A Tale of Three Cities
Lecture Series

Past program

NGV International

Clemenger BBDO Auditorium
Ground Level

Two artists, three cities.

Journeying through similar times and places, though never crossing paths, Andy Warhol’s and Ai Weiwei’s work and life have been shaped by the cities of Beijing, Pittsburgh and New York.

How have time and place shaped Andy Warhol, Ai Weiwei and their artworks? What legacy have these artists had on the cities they called home?

Each week guest speakers explore these questions through the lens of the city: Pittsburgh, New York and Beijing, sharing illustrated insights into Andy Warhol and Ai Weiwei’s artistic practice and revealing the impact of the city, time and place on these two influential artists.

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Please note this program will have Auslan interpretation.

Sat 13 Feb, 2pm (Past)

Andy Warhol’s remarkable journey, from the son of humble, uneducated Capatho-Rusyn immigrants, to one of the most influential artists of the twentieth century began in the industrial American city of Pittsburgh. The two decades he spent there before moving to New York City in 1949 proved formative in his artistic development and eventual evolution to a leading figure of the American Pop Art movement.

Once the beating industrial heart of America, Pittsburgh is now home to The Andy Warhol Museum. Opening in 1994, the museum has contributed to the transformation of the city into a leading tourist and cultural destination in America. Learn more about the unique qualities of ‘The Steel City’ and the early years of Warhol’s art and life from Dr Sylvia Harrison and Dr Rodney Taveira.

Speakers Dr Sylvia Harrison, Honorary Research Associate, La Trobe University and Dr Rodney Taveira, Lecturer in American Studies, United States Studies Centre, University of Sydney

Sat 27 Feb, 2pm (Past)

When Andy Warhol moved to New York City in 1949, the city was in the midst of an enormous building boom and was revelling in its new status as one of the great cities of the world. At the same time, artists were adapting to the new post-war urban reality, where the city, capitalism, consumerism and mass media reigned.

In the 1950s the Pop Art movement emerged and by the 1960s Andy Warhol was a household name. During this time, New York thrived as the leading global commercial and artistic city, serving as a testing ground for new social values and artistic practice.

Ai Weiwei moved to New York in 1981, where he stayed for twelve years before returning to Beijing in 1993. Ai Weiwei’s time in New York was integral to his artistic development.

Explore New York and the influence this city had on Andy Warhol and Ai Weiwei’s life and work with Dr Barbara Keys and Dr Tara McDowell.

Speakers Dr Tara McDowell, Associate Professor and Director, Curatorial Practice, Monash University Art Design & Architecture and Dr Barbara Keys, Associate Professor of History, School of Historical and Philosophical Studies, The University of Melbourne

Sat 12 Mar, 2pm (Past)

Beijing is the political and social heart of China, and as an artist, Ai Weiwei views the city as not only his muse but his antagonist. He is both a product of the city and a catalyst for it to change.

Born in 1957 in Beijing and the son of poet Ai Qing, Ai grew up in exile during the Cultural Revolution, only returning to Beijing following the death of Mao in 1976. He has lived in Beijing ever since, apart from his time in New York from 1981 to 1993.

Upon his return to Beijing in the 1990s, Ai encountered a city that had changed yet still faced many of the same issues. He has since used his art as a way of expressing his political concerns, and effecting social change, always with the hope of bettering the city he calls home.

Hear about the changing city of Beijing, from the Cultural Revolution to contemporary life today, and learn about the relationship between Ai Weiwei’s artistic practice and his activism from Mikala Tai and Dr John Fitzgerald.

Speakers Mikala Tai, Director, 4A Centre for Contemporary Asian Art and Dr John Fitzgerald, Director, Asia-Pacific Centre for Social Impact & Philanthropy Truby and Florence Williams Chair, Faculty of Business and Law, Swinburne University


Talks and discussions Asia Contemporary International Andy Warhol — Ai Weiwei NGV International