Since its inception in 1992, the illy Art collection has collaborated with hundreds of leading contemporary artists, including top art world luminaries such as Marina Abramovic, Yoko Ono, Robert Rauschenberg, Je‑ Koons, Julian Schnabel, Anish Kapoor, Daniel Buren, James Rosenquist. Each has lent their creativity and singular imprint onto illy’s cups, creating a rich cadre of collectible table top objects. The espresso cup itself, designed by architect Matteo Thun in 1991, is by now ubiquitous throughout Italy and the rest of the world, an immediately symbol of high-quality and passionate attention. illy Art Collection: small works of art, taking ceramic cup as medium, transforming the simple pleasure of drinking an espresso into an experience that fully engages the senses and the mind.
The new illy Art Collection designed by Ai Weiwei is inspired by his famous Coloured Vases (2006), ancient Neolithic vases that the artist dipped into cans of industrial paint, radically changing their appearance and function. With these desecrating ready-mades Ai Weiwei renews and transforms an artefact from the past into a work of contemporary art, through a process of appropriation and destruction.