Tucked away in Ancram, New York—a tiny village located just past the midway point between New York City and Albany—is a rather rare artwork for sale: the only U.S. home designed by Chinese dissident artist Ai Weiwei. With a $5.25 million asking price from Klemm Real Estate, the 3,700 square-foot 3-bedroom, 3-bath, 3-fireplace concrete family home comes with a 2-bedroom guest house, pool, generator, and 37 acres of what you can see is very idyllic upstate land. Not a steal, but not a bad value for a generous weekend escape with such provenance, all things considered.
This House for Sale is a $5.25 Million Ai Weiwei Artwork With a Pool
The Chinese artist collaborated with firm HHF on this 3-bedroom, 3-bath vacation home—the only Ai Weiwei residence in the United States.By Gabriel Bell July 1, 2019
The concrete-faced main house—dense and somewhat Brutalist outside, but light and airy inside—dates from 2006 with the floating Y-shaped corrugated aluminum-clad guest house being only slightly younger. Overall, the interiors of the main house are functional, spacious, and framed with smart use of unfussy woods. The Boffi Kitchen is, of course, a further enticement. The use of light, church-like at times, is impressive for someone with such a short list of projects.
Across the lawn, it becomes clear that the guest house is the far more daring of the two structures. Here, the central hall offers light pouring in from the windows and glass doors at the ends of its three wings; a skylight and wood, in a dark but revealing stain, covers the floor, walls, and ceiling. It’s an unusual, brave mix of curved forms and knotty, natural materials—though it may take a visit (and a long stay) to decide if it’s successful or not.
A hard-edged pile of rectangles form the almost counterintuitively inviting pool the two structures share. All were commissioned by Christopher Tsai, the global financier who many have called the largest collector of Ai’s artwork in the world. Tsai sold the house in 2013 and Ai designed and executed the two structures in collaboration with Swiss architecture firm HHF, a practice with a portfolio full of similarly bracing residences and commercial projects.
While his only house for sale in the States, this picturesque property a couple of hours north of Manhattan is not Ai Weiwei’s only foray into architecture. Once an external teacher of the Architecture Department of China Academy of Art, Ai was famously the artistic consultant for design on Herzog & de Meuron’s Beijing National Stadium (aka “The Bird’s Nest”) before distancing himself from the project and the 2008 Summer Olympics for which it was created. He would collaborate again with Herzog & de Meuron for a temporary 2012 Serpentine Gallery Pavilion and has curated now-disused architecture projects and parks in both China and Mongolia.
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