Illycaffè unveils Art Collection by the Famous Ai Weiwei

Illycaffè Unveils Art Collection by the Famous Ai Weiwei

May 21 - 2021

Coffee Geography Magazine

Illycaffè presents the new illy Art Collection by Ai Weiwei, a personal interpretation of the renowned series of art cups by the Chinese artist who is one of the 21st century's most influential people.

ai wei wei illycafe cups

This illy Art Collection has been inspired by Ai Weiwei's famous Coloured Vases, which he created in 2006, taking ancient Neolithic vases and dunking them into industrial paint tins to reshape their look and function. Using a process of appropriation and destruction, Ai Weiwei takes ordinary objects away from their daily context and transforms them into works of art.

Ai Weiwei was born in Beijing in 1957 and currently resides and works in Europe. He is renowned for making strong aesthetic statements that resonate with timely phenomena across today's geopolitical world. From architecture to installations, social media to documentaries, Ai uses a wide range of mediums as expressions of new ways for his audiences to examine society and its values.


"To express yourself needs a reason, but expressing yourself is the reason," the perfect summary of the life and the art of Ai Weiwei, which are closely entwined and have seen him become a conceptual artist, sculptor, painter, performer, photographer, architect and urban designer, collector, film director, actor, musician, writer and editor, blogger and selfie professional, investigative journalist, human rights activist and dissident.... a kaleidoscope of experiences and perspectives. In his illy Art Collection, Ai Weiwei echoes all of this in a familiar object and, with one of his typical unsettling acts, he invites us to explore our "position" and the perspective from which we look at the world at a given point in space and time, even just for the time it takes to enjoy a coffee.

"I am very happy to be a part of illy Art Collection. I think it is very important to give power to art and design while drinking good coffee, because it affects everybody's life. We should enjoy it." - Ai Weiwei

"The project with Ai Weiwei is an exceptional event," said MassimilianoPogliani, illycaffè CEO, "and we have celebrated it with a particularly valuable and refined illy Art Collection. From a great personality, that has had a huge impact on culture in recent years, speaking out about the complexity of contemporary society, often ironically, we get an optical illusion, a hidden beauty which becomes manifest if we learn to see without the misconception of using one single perspective only. To us, this is what the illy Art Collection project is: art providing an insight through beauty, and Ai Weiwei's artwork is new and brilliant evidence of this."


Massimiliano Pogliani, illycaffè CEO

The collection by Ai Weiwei is available from May in the following formats: 4 espresso cups (decorated in gold, black, orange and green) £77.49 4 cappuccino cups (decorated in gold, black, orange and green) £94.99 2 espresso cups (decorated in gold and black) £42.49 2 cappuccino cups (decorated in gold and black) £50.99


illy Art Collection began in 1992, based on an idea of Francesco Illy: it includes numbered art cups by over 100 international artists. Great artists such as Marina Abramovic, Michelangelo Pistoletto, Louis Bourgeois, Mark Quinn… as well as young creative talents. As everyday objects, the cups designed by Matteo Thun are a blank slate and the protagonists of contemporary art get their inspiration, so that drinking an espresso becomes an experience involving both the senses and the mind.


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