Happy 4th with Cai Guo-Qiang 07.04.09
This past Wednesday, we invaded the new East Wing of the Cleveland Museum of Art to talk about contemporary art with a genial and smart group of art lovers. In honor of the impending fireworks on the 4th of July, I made sure that we spent time talking about Cai Guo-Qiang's (pronounced like sigh gwo chang) Pine Forest and Wolf (oddly, the museum lists all four panels that make up the work separately, so you don't see them as a complete piece).
Cai Guo-Qiang (b. 1957) is a Chinese artist known for his use of gunpowder and fireworks to create drawings and events. Enjoy the fireworks tonight and if you live somewhere where you can legally and safely set them off yourself. Try setting off a black cat or flower on a piece of paper to make your own, really bad version of a Cai Guo-Qiang.*
You can also see more about the artist and his work on Art:21. Cai Guo-Qiang's portion starts at 1:25 and ends at 14:25. I recommend fast forwarding to 1:25 so you can avoid David Alan Grier's annoying intro.
* Note from the lawyers: Please don't do something stupid like emptying the powder from the fireworks and lighting that. I tried it when I was 9 and almost lost an eye. Keep a fire extinguisher near by. Wear fire resistant gear. Hire a fireman for the night. Keep fireworks away from other flammable materials. Make sure that you have insurance that covers fire. And only do this if you are a pyrotechnics expert or Lee Majors. Actually, scratch that. Don't do it.nn