While they are perhaps lesser known to the general public than his sculptural, conceptual, architectural and social media projects, Ai Weiwei's photography – from his black and white images of New York City in the 1980s/90 to the Study of Perspective series (1995-2003), in which he snapped his extended middle finger in front of famous international monuments – is nevertheless a key component to understanding the socially-activated artist's creative arc. Ai, whose supporters recently stripped nude in a viral photo campaign that outraged the Chinese government, will be presented with the Cornell Capa Award from The International Center of Photography (ICP) in New York this May. His exhibitions at LACMA, Los Angeles, Chambers Fine Art, New York and the Victoria & Albert Museum, London are off the walls, but those at Kunstmuseum Wolfsburg, Jeu de Paume, Paris and De Pont Museum, Tilburg are still on view. Coming up in May are solos at Kistefos-Museet, Jevnaker and Lisson Gallery, London.

Image: Ai Weiwei, from the series Study of Perspective, 1995-2003. (c) Ai Weiwei