Artist and activist Ai Weiwei is among the most inventive and prodigious artists of the early 21st century. Driven by concepts that frequently explore human rights, freedom of speech, and an examination of culture, he has become a defining voice in Contemporary art. The colossal Iron Tree is his largest outdoor sculpture to date. Standing at more than 22 feet tall, and measuring more than 22 feet wide, it is composed of 99 individual, solid cast pieces from tree elements from southern China. From a distance is registers as a tree - but closer examination reveals a myriad of awkward cuts and stainless steel bolts which hold the sculpture together. A metaphor for cultures and communities of widespread diversity brought together as a social whole is foundational to the artists intention.
Ai Weiwei. Iron Tree, 2013. Iron and stainless steel, 264 x 264 x 264 inches. Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park, Grand Rapids, Michigan. Gift of Fred and Lena Meijer. © Ai Weiwei.