Ai Weiwei

Timeline: Ai Weiwei’s life story

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 27 September, 2012, 3:16pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 27 September, 2012, 4:19pm



Ai Weiwei is born in Beijing. His parents are the well-known poet Ai Qing and writer Gao Ying. 



Ai’s family is exiled to Xinjiang during the Cultural Revolution.



They return to Beijing after 16 years.



Ai enrols in the Beijing Film Academy. Zhang Yimou and Chen Kaige, who later become China’s most famous film directors, are his classmates.



At age 24, Ai leaves China for America with the help of a girlfriend who has relatives there. He lives mostly in New York.



He returns to Beijing to look after his sick father.



He helps establish the Modern Chinese Art Foundation



He co-designs the Olympic Stadium, nicknamed the Bird’s Nest, for the 2008 Beijing Games. His name becomes more widely known in the international art scene. 



He receives a lifetime achievement award at the Chinese Contemporary Art Awards 2008 Exhibition.

Ai demands that the government conduct a public investigation of the 8.0-magnitude Sichuan earthquake, which kills 5,000 schoolchildren and nearly 70,000 people that year. 


April 2011:

He is stopped at the Beijing airport and is detained for “economic crimes”, authorities said.


June 2011:

He is released on bail after 81 days of detention. Police say Ai “admits to tax evasion”. 


October 2011:

Ai is honoured as the most powerful art figure by ArtReview at its 10th annual “Power 100” event.


November 2011:

About 2,500 of his supporters volunteer to lend him 871,000 yuan (HK$10.7 million) to pay for tax bill and fines worth 15.22 million yuan.



September 2012

Ai’s appeal for a US$2.4 million tax evasion fine was turned down by a district court in Beijing.



Sources: SCMP, the Guardian, BBC, Sydney Morning Herald