Ai Wei Wei's early life has been heavily documented and is an interesting tie to the artist that he is now. His father, Ai Qing was a Chinese Poet who was denounced during Mao Zedong's rule. The entire family was sent to a labor camp when Ai Wei Wei was barely one – they continued to live there until he turned sixteen. After Mao Zedong's death, the family returned to Beijing in 1976 whereby Ai Wei Wei began to actively pursue art in his academic career. Having lived in New York for about 12 years, he worked odd jobs to support himself while constantly taking photographs of streets in the big city; they are now known as the New York Photographs.
Today, Ai Wei Wei is a successful artist with many of his exhibitions featured globally. Although he has been arrested by Chinese authorities over his political activism, Ai Wei Wei remains a staunch artists who believes that through creating, awareness can be made which in effect provokes change. His art is sensational in 21st century art world and it is not surprising, just look at Forever Bicycles and you will understand why.