This autumn, Blenheim Palace sees the launch of the new Blenheim Art Foundation, which brings an exciting new programme of contemporary art by leading international artists to the Palace. Opening on 1st October, celebrated Chinese artist Ai Weiwei’s largest UK exhibition launches the foundation in ‘Ai Weiwei at Blenheim Palace’, with more than 50 new and iconic artworks on display throughout the palace and its grounds.
Artworks will range from photographs taken by Ai Weiwei whilst living in New York during the 1980s, through to a large carpet made especially for the exhibition, which will be on display in the Great Hall. Further artworks will include a table formed from wood reclaimed from temples dating to the Qing Dynasty (1644 -1911), intricately hand-painted porcelain plates, and Circle of Animals/Zodiac Heads: Gold, Ai Weiwei’s reinterpretation of the legendary bronze zodiac head statues that once surrounded the fountain-clock at Emperor Yuanming Yuan’s Beijing imperial retreat. Our newly-refurbished room located in the Stables Courtyard will, for the first time, be used as a gallery space.
About Ai Weiwei .Born in 1957 in Beijing, Ai Weiwei is one of the most influential cultural figures of the 21st century. A prolific artist and social activist, based in Beijing, he has been a vocal critic of democracy and human rights in China. Ai was arrested in 2011 and held for 81 days without charge, sparking global protest. His passport was confiscated and he is currently detained in China where he lives and works in restricted conditions.
“The launch of the Blenheim Art Foundation is a very exciting moment for Blenheim Palace. We are delighted to be able to host an artist of the calibre and eminence of Ai Weiwei at Blenheim and hope that our new programme of contemporary art, beginning with this exhibition, will challenge and inspire our visitors."
Lord Edward Spencer-Churchill, Founder, Blenheim Art Foundation