White marble chair by Ai Weiwei in Ming dyansty reception room at Minneapolis Institute of Arts.

A prominent democracy advocate and critic of the Chinese Communist government, Ai Weiwei lives in Beijing but had built a $1 million studio complex in Shanghai. The studio was destroyed Jan. 11 on government orders, the New York Times reported here.

Last year Eric Dayton, son of Minnesota governor Mark Dayton, gave a sculpture by Ai Weiwei to the Minneapolis Institute of Arts in honor of his grandfather Bruce Dayton, along-time trustee of the museum and a major benefactor of its Chinese art collection.

Ai Weiwei's white-marble sculpture is in the form of a Ming-dynasty chair. The precious material and traditional shape signal the artist's respect for Chinese history and traditional culture, much of which are being bulldozed and destroyed in the country's rapid modernization.