Viewers and critics love going Freudian on artists, digging into their childhood and personal lives in search for clues that may reveal new meanings in their works of art. Sometimes, the connections between their life and experiences are strong and visceral. Other times they are not.
In this article, we will look at where and how the childhoods and personal lives of Ai Weiwei and Andy Warhol have influenced their art. (Their works are jointly on display at the National Gallery of Victoria until April 24).
Weiwei’s childhood can be described by one word – traumatic. His father Ai Qing was a celebrated Chinese poet. Though a fervent member of the Communist Party, he fell victim to Mao’s infamous purges of the intellectuals during the Cultural Revolution of the 1950s. His crime? He wrote a poem calling for greater tolerance for different voices.
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