Ai Weiwei (b. 1957)
These lots have been imported from outside the EU … Read more
Ai Weiwei (b. 1957)

Marble Door

Details
Ai Weiwei (b. 1957)
Marble Door
carved marble
82 5/8 x 31 ¼ x 2 ¼in. (209.8 x 79.3 x 5.7cm.)
Executed in 2007
Provenance
Galerie Urs Meile, Lucerne.
Private collection, Europe.
Anon. sale, Christie's, New York, 9 May 2012, lot 507.
Acquired at the above sale by the present owner.
Special notice

These lots have been imported from outside the EU for sale using a Temporary Import regime. Import VAT is payable (at 5%) on the Hammer price. VAT is also payable (at 20%) on the buyer’s Premium on a VAT inclusive basis. When a buyer of such a lot has registered an EU address but wishes to export the lot or complete the import into another EU country, he must advise Christie's immediately after the auction.
Post lot text
This work is accompanied by a certificate of authenticity signed by the artist.

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Lot Essay

‘[China] is virtually a building site. You see piles of doors left around houses in the process of being demolished.’
—AI WEIWEI

An apparently humble door rendered in exquisite marble, Ai Weiwei’s Marble Door (2007) is equally a shrewd observation of the changing face of Chinese culture in the wake of rapid economic modernisation, and a broader interrogation of the nature of value and the conceptual border that separates functionality and aestheticism. Its elegant, timeless design deriving from the traditional “hutong” architectural style found in Beijing and other northern Chinese cities, Ai transforms the door into a resplendent monument to domesticity, rising up above the viewer. Perhaps the most important Chinese artist working today, Ai’s work returns repeatedly to Chinese history and heritage in order to interrogate the way in which the country is changing under the dual pressures of huge economic growth and the actions of the political regime overseeing it. In Marble Door, the artist considers the way in which the nature of urban space is being transformed across China, as ancient buildings are demolished in order to make way for newer developments: here, the artist takes an iconic wooden door design, and reproduces it in everlasting marble, medium of monuments. These doors can often be seen filling rubbish tips around Beijing, removed from the small houses and narrow interconnected alleyways that have been destroyed in order to build roads and bigger, more commercial developments; recreating the doors in marble, Ai gives the design a monumental grandeur, turning what had been considered disposable and throwaway into a magnificent artefact. Yet aside from revealing the beauty in the proverbial gutter, Marble Door also asks us to question the way in which heritage is validated only in the rarefied space of the museum or gallery, asking us to value and understand our cultural inheritance as a living, breathing part of everyday life without requiring it to be preserved as an artwork first.

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