1. Ai Weiwei

Despite being unable to leave China, facing tax debt, and being closely watched by the Chinese government, Ai Weiwei's star has risen in 2012. The brilliant Never Sorry documentary—covering the artist's life and social activism—was shortlisted for an Oscar nomination, a phenomenal exhibition is currently on view at the Hirshhorn Museum, and the release a viral video parodying Psy's "Gangnam Style" took the Internet by storm. Rounding out the year in style, he's releasing a book titled Weiwei-isms—reminding us all of his unfailing wit and wisdom.