Ai Weiwei exhibition to launch at Palazzo Strozzi

Libero from September 23, 2016

Anna McGee
July 25, 2016 - 14:35

Palazzo Strozzi is set to play host this autumn to the works of renowned Chinese artist and activist Ai Weiwei in his first major Italian exhibition to date, titled Libero (meaning “free” in Italian). The whole of the Palazzo, both inside and out, will be transformed by his multi-disciplinary art.




Flagship installation Reframe will consist of 22 large rubber inflatable lifeboats attached to the windows of Palazzo Strozzi’s façade. This powerful comment on the desperate plight of refugees who risk their lives to reach Europe by crossing the Mediterranean is representative of the overall theme of the exhibition: the artist hopes to raise awareness about our contemporary international humanitarian crisis.


Ai Weiwei was notoriously imprisoned by the Chinese authorities in 2011 for condemning the country’s human rights violations. This time, however, he is criticising Europe and its perceived complacency when faced with the enormity of the immigration situation: it is an exhibition that ‘admonishes and makes you think’.


The 15th-century palazzo provides the perfect backdrop for Libero, Ai Weiwei explains, as the historic setting gives a certain weight to this modern problem. And the artist himself can truly be considered a Renaissance man: at once a free thinker and a multi-disciplinarian, he considers both the universal and the personal, while his art makes both a cultural and political statement.


Director of Palazzo Strozzi Arturo Galansino believes that hosting this provocative, contemporary art exhibition will also help establish Florence as an avant-garde cultural capital. Libero follows the brief display in piazza della Repubblica of the black, prone David, entitled Us, which was also intended as a statement of solidarity with refugees and victims of terror. Perhaps art does have the power to raise awareness, or at least begin a dialogue.


The exhibition will run from September 23, 2016 to January 22, 2017. For more information, see

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