LACMA buys work of controversial Chinese artist

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Peter Parks/AFP/Getty Images

Chinese artist Ai Weiwei sits in the courtyard of his home in Beijing where he remains under house arrest on Nov. 7, 2010.

The Los Angeles County Museum of Art announced on Monday that it’s purchased eight new pieces for its permanent collection. The pieces include a work of art by a Chinese conceptual artist, currently detained in China — by most accounts for his critique of his country’s human rights violations.

LACMA curator Franklin Sirmans urged the museum’s collector’s committee to purchase a sculpture by Ai Weiwei because of the artist’s pointed ability to question the past and the present.

Sirmans cited Ai Weiwei’s 1995 piece titled “Dropping a Han Dynasty Urn.”

“He dropped a 2,000-year-old urn, completely destroying it,” Sirmans said about the piece. “This sense of how do we look at the past and the present, how do we make things new, and oftentimes, I think, it’s one of those situations where we destroy to create anew.”

LACMA purchased “Divine Proportion,” a 9-foot-tall spherical rosewood sculpture that resembles a soccer ball. The price was not disclosed.

It’s the first piece by Weiwei in LACMA’s collection. This fall, the museum will host a traveling exhibition of 12 bronze sculptures by the artist.

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