Ai Weiwei's "Sunflower Seeds" - a cast opus
One of our all-time favorite artists was kind enough to share his work with us for CAST. The inimitable Ai Weiwei is one of the leading sculptors in the world who seems to always have his finger on the pulse of what's happening. He creates work that is perfectly attuned politically and conceptually and is always exquisitely crafted.
One of the points we make in CAST is that process is a key to unlocking self-expression. Without a mastery of process, ideas can never be perfectly expressed. Ai Weiwei's piece, Sunflower Seeds, is a great example of process enabling an idea to come to magnificent fruition - it never could have been made without casting.
Sunflower Seeds consists of 100,000,000 cast porcelain sunflower seeds. The piece weighs 150 tons. It took 1,600 craftspeople in Jingdezhen, China two-and-half years to create.
There are many layers of meaning to the piece. There's a wonderful website, aiweiweiseeds.com, dedicated entirely to this work that delves deeply into the layered concepts and considerations within this work.
This is a contemporary sculpture masterpiece and a technical tour-de-force. If you're unfamiliar with this piece, check it out - it's worth the time.
Ai Weiwei, Sunflower Seeds, installed at the Tate from October 12, 2010 - May 2, 2011. Porcelain. Photo: Tate Photography 2010