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Ai Weiwei Donates

His “Libero” exhibition at Pala- zzo Strozzi last year saw a re- cord number of visitors: 150,000 in four months. Following this success and to thank the city for the space offered, Weiwei recently donated two works to Florence. The first is a variation of the Portrait of Filip- po Strozzi, a portrait made of the Renaissance man in Lego bricks, which was donated to the Fonda- zione Palazzo Strozzi. The other is a self-portrait, a Lego piece of the artist’s face that has been signed over to the Self-Portraits Collection of the Uffizi.
The provocative and controversial
Beijing-born artist is a popular fig- ure in the contemporary art world, well known for speaking out against the Chinese government and his ar- tistic criticism of the lack of democ- racy and human rights around the world. Weiwei scathingly condemns the negative accepts of globalization and corrupt government, his voice speaking to all those who feel con- strained by contemporary societies. In 2011 the Chinese artist was arrest- ed for false allegations of tax evasion and then released after 81 days by the Chinese government. Getting back his passport, he subsequently traveled the world.
Weiwei’s recent exhibit at Palazzo Strozzi showcased some of his most important works, including his fa- mous middle finger portraits and the dropping of a 2,000-year-old Han dynasty vase.
On occasion of the exhibit, Wei- wei’s red dinghies (small life boats) covering the window frames of the Palazzo Strozzi, an allusion to the tragic situations of migrants and refugees who struggle across the Mediterranean Sea hoping for sal- vation, sparked wide controversy, dividing those who appreciated them from those who considered it inappropriate for Florence.

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