“I remember going to a gallery opening and hearing people say ‘Andy is here, Andy is here,’ and suddenly I saw him through the crowd,” Mr. Ai recalled this week, walking through “Andy Warhol/Ai Weiwei” at the Warhol Museum here. “It was incredible to be in the same room, but I was a nobody.”
In the 25 years since he abruptly left New York to tend to his ailing father in China, Mr. Ai has become a somebody. Wily provocateur, enemy of the state and media-savvy advocate for the disenfranchised, he is a darling of the global contemporary art world, a bona fide celebrity whose burly, bearded presence invariably draws admiring crowds.
Andy Warhol and Ai Weiwei, it turns out, have plenty in common.