The Des Moines Art Center recently purchased two new major works for its permanent collections: “Kui Hua Zi (Sunflower Seeds)” by Chinese artist Ai Weiwei (born 1957); and “The Bathers,” an 1897 lithograph by Paul Cézanne (1839-1906). Ai’s intriguing work consists of porcelain sunflower seeds. “Ai is one of the most compelling artists working today on the global stage, and he is widely considered China’s most important living artist,” says Jeff Fleming, director of the Des Moines Art Center. “This particular artwork is part of Ai’s most recognized projects, the installation of 100 million handmade and hand-painted porcelain sunflower seeds at Tate Modern, London, in 2010.”
Cézanne’s only published lithograph, “The Bathers” is from an edition of 100. The French artist “was considered by many Modern artists, including Pablo Picasso and Henri Matisse, as the ‘father of us all,’ ” says Fleming. “The artist’s immense contributions to early modernist art and the print’s quintessential imagery add significantly to the Art Center’s permanent collections and provide an educational foundation to study and understand our contemporary holdings.” Both works are currently on display, although “The Bathers” will be one exhibit only for a few more weeks and then will be vaulted until this summer.