Archive: Cai Guo-Qiang
Powerful photos of rainbow exploding over New York

Powerful photos of rainbow exploding over New York

Cai Guo-Qiang - Transient Rainbow, 2002, opening of MoMA QNS, New York City
Cai Guo-Qiang – Transient Rainbow, 2002, 1,000 3-inch multi-color peony fireworks fitted with computer chips, explosion radius approximately 200m. Realized over the East River, from Manhattan to Queens, 15 seconds explosion event in celebration of the opening of MoMA QNS, New York City
Photo: Hiro Ihara, courtesy Cai Studio

Introduction

The Transient Rainbow by Cai Guo-Qiang was a minute-long show of color and light and it was held at the East River, just over the southern tip of Roosevelt Island. The event was held by the Museum of Modern Art, New York to commemorate MOMA’s temporary move to Queens. The Transient Rainbow was displayed for the public on June 29, 2002. The Transient Rainbow was one among many special projects by other contemporary artists that had been commissioned by the Museum of Modern Art to celebrate the establishment of the Queens branch.

Cai Guo-Qiang - Transient Rainbow, 2002, opening of MoMA QNS, New York City
Cai Guo-Qiang – Transient Rainbow, 2002, 1,000 3-inch multi-color peony fireworks fitted with computer chips, explosion radius approximately 200m. Realized over the East River, from Manhattan to Queens, 15 seconds explosion event in celebration of the opening of MoMA QNS, New York City

Transient Rainbow (explosion event)

Transient Rainbow was a minute-long fireworks installation conceived by Chinese artist Cai Guo-Qiang. Cai designed the rainbow of fireworks to appear just like a regular rainbow. The only difference was that instead of using water and light to create the rainbow, Cai used fire and gunpowder to make his.

Cai’s choice to use gunpowder was not unusual. In China, happy or festive events are often celebrated using firecrackers and fireworks. The rainbow of dazzling fireworks that were used to create the arch of the transient rainbow over the river only lasted several seconds after it was activated but Cai also made an accompanying piece of art so the experience could last forever.

‘Drawing for Transient Rainbow’ (gunpowder on paper)

To create the artwork Drawing for Transient Rainbow, he laid a huge piece of paper on a fireproof floor before carefully placing smaller piles of gunpowder on it. He then covered that paper with another sheet and weighed it down prior to lighting a fuse. As the smoke from the explosion cleared, Cai and his assistants then removed the top piece and extinguished the sparks, so the bottom piece, which contained the resulting art from the explosion, would not burn up. This piece of art is currently held at the Museum of Modern Art.

Cai Guo-Qiang – Drawing for Transient Rainbow, 2003, Gunpowder on two sheets of paper, 454.7 x 405.1 cm (179 x 159 1:2″)
Cai Guo-Qiang – Drawing for Transient Rainbow, 2003, Gunpowder on two sheets of paper, 454.7 x 405.1 cm (179 x 159 1/2″)

About the artist

Cai Guo-Qiang is a contemporary artist from China. He was born in 1957 in Quanzhou during the Chinese cultural revolution. As a young boy, he received an education in the arts before moving to reside permanently in Japan. It was in Japan that he started experimenting with gunpowder to create plastic art at first and then large-scale installations as his career progressed. Over the years, his work has been featured all over the world, most notable of all being the 2008 Beijing Winter Olympic Games.

Photos of the rainbow explosion

Cai Guo-Qiang - Transient Rainbow, 2002, opening of MoMA QNS, New York City
Cai Guo-Qiang – Transient Rainbow, 2002, 1,000 3-inch multi-color peony fireworks fitted with computer chips, explosion radius approximately 200m. Realized over the East River, from Manhattan to Queens, 15 seconds explosion event in celebration of the opening of MoMA QNS, New York City

Cai Guo-Qiang - Transient Rainbow, 2002, opening of MoMA QNS, New York City
Cai Guo-Qiang – Transient Rainbow, 2002, 1,000 3-inch multi-color peony fireworks fitted with computer chips, explosion radius approximately 200m. Realized over the East River, from Manhattan to Queens, 15 seconds explosion event in celebration of the opening of MoMA QNS, New York City

Cai Guo-Qiang - Transient Rainbow, 2002, opening of MoMA QNS, New York City
Cai Guo-Qiang – Transient Rainbow, 2002, 1,000 3-inch multi-color peony fireworks fitted with computer chips, explosion radius approximately 200m. Realized over the East River, from Manhattan to Queens, 15 seconds explosion event in celebration of the opening of MoMA QNS, New York City

Cai Guo-Qiang - Transient Rainbow, 2002, opening of MoMA QNS, New York City
Cai Guo-Qiang – Transient Rainbow, 2002, 1,000 3-inch multi-color peony fireworks fitted with computer chips, explosion radius approximately 200m. Realized over the East River, from Manhattan to Queens, 15 seconds explosion event in celebration of the opening of MoMA QNS, New York City

Cai Guo-Qiang - Transient Rainbow, 2002, opening of MoMA QNS, New York City
Cai Guo-Qiang – Transient Rainbow, 2002, 1,000 3-inch multi-color peony fireworks fitted with computer chips, explosion radius approximately 200m. Realized over the East River, from Manhattan to Queens, 15 seconds explosion event in celebration of the opening of MoMA QNS, New York City

Cai Guo-Qiang - Transient Rainbow, 2002, opening of MoMA QNS, New York City
Cai Guo-Qiang – Transient Rainbow, 2002, 1,000 3-inch multi-color peony fireworks fitted with computer chips, explosion radius approximately 200m. Realized over the East River, from Manhattan to Queens, 15 seconds explosion event in celebration of the opening of MoMA QNS, New York City

Cai Guo-Qiang - Transient Rainbow, 2002, opening of MoMA QNS, New York City
Cai Guo-Qiang – Transient Rainbow, 2002, 1,000 3-inch multi-color peony fireworks fitted with computer chips, explosion radius approximately 200m. Realized over the East River, from Manhattan to Queens, 15 seconds explosion event in celebration of the opening of MoMA QNS, New York City

Cai Guo-Qiang - Transient Rainbow, 2002, opening of MoMA QNS, New York City
Cai Guo-Qiang – Transient Rainbow, 2002, 1,000 3-inch multi-color peony fireworks fitted with computer chips, explosion radius approximately 200m. Realized over the East River, from Manhattan to Queens, 15 seconds explosion event in celebration of the opening of MoMA QNS, New York City

Cai Guo-Qiang - Transient Rainbow, 2002, opening of MoMA QNS, New York City
Cai Guo-Qiang – Transient Rainbow, 2002, 1,000 3-inch multi-color peony fireworks fitted with computer chips, explosion radius approximately 200m. Realized over the East River, from Manhattan to Queens, 15 seconds explosion event in celebration of the opening of MoMA QNS, New York City

Cai Guo-Qiang - Transient Rainbow, 2002, opening of MoMA QNS, New York City
Cai Guo-Qiang – Transient Rainbow, 2002, 1,000 3-inch multi-color peony fireworks fitted with computer chips, explosion radius approximately 200m. Realized over the East River, from Manhattan to Queens, 15 seconds explosion event in celebration of the opening of MoMA QNS, New York City

Cai Guo-Qiang - Transient Rainbow, 2002, opening of MoMA QNS, New York City
Cai Guo-Qiang – Transient Rainbow, 2002, 1,000 3-inch multi-color peony fireworks fitted with computer chips, explosion radius approximately 200m. Realized over the East River, from Manhattan to Queens, 15 seconds explosion event in celebration of the opening of MoMA QNS, New York City

Videos

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With full force: 99 wolves crash into a glass wall – Cai Guo-Qiang

With full force: 99 wolves crash into a glass wall – Cai Guo-Qiang

Cai Guo-Qiang, Head On, 2006, 99 life-sized replicas of wolves and glass wall
Cai Guo-QiangHead On, 2006, 99 life-sized replicas of wolves and glass wall

Introduction

Berlin, Singapore, New York, Bilbao, and Brisbane are just a few of the locations in the world that have had the pleasure of experiencing Cai Guo-Qiang’s Head On (2006). For his dramatic and impressive installation, Cai who resides in New York chose to fit 99 life-like stuffed wolves into a glass wall. The stuffed wolves appeared to push towards a transparent wall relentlessly crashing with full force against the glass barrier.

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Cai Guo-Qiang’s massive 8min explosive performance made citizens call the police

Cai Guo-Qiang’s massive 8min explosive performance made citizens call the police

Cai Guo-Qiang - Elegy (Explosion Event), The Ninth Wave at Huangpu riverfront of the Power Station of Art, Shanghai, China
Cai Guo-QiangElegy, chapter one of Elegy: Explosion Event for the opening of Cai Guo-Qiang: The Ninth Wave, realized on the riverfront of the Power Station of Art, Shanghai, China, 5:00 p.m., August 8th, 2014, approximately 8 minutes

About Cai Guo-Qiang

Cai Guo-Qiang is a New York-based artist and one of the furthermost celebrated contemporary artists originating from China. He is known for a remarkable new kind of fireworks spectacles which he calls “explosion events.” He has taken gunpowder, one of China’s Four Great Inventions and led the way in a new impressive form of art that is substantial and metaphorical. His fireworks represent nature, culture, life, and death.

Cai’s history with pyrotechnics

Cai’s captivation with pyrotechnics had origins in weaponry and physics, evolving into an affinity with traditional Chinese brush painting. Thus the violent explosions are transformed into a tool of art, creating a masterpiece in the sky, a masterpiece that only has a short lifetime, and fades away. Cai’s daytime “explosion events,” intimates classical brush painting. Cai involves organic vegetable dyes as opposed to just gunpowder, the smoke from these “explosion events” gradually blurs in the air almost as ink from a brush stroke is absorbed by rice paper in traditional painting. His daylight skywriting signifies his deep traditionalism and his modernism all at once.

The 2014 fireworks project in Shanghai

Cai’s work in front of the Power Station of Art in Shanghai, China is eight minutes of colors filling the sky, in a ritualistically sincere elucidation of the ‘death of nature’. The show personifies the natural world with remembrance, looking back on the past and the transitory nature of time through a display of colorful smoke. The smoke fades away until nothing is left, no reminiscence of the beauty that once was, just like everything that exists in nature.

Why was the police called?

The police asked the artist not to publicize the event to prevent traffic problems. The fireworks left many people clueless, thinking that the massive, yellow and black-and-green clouds were the toxic results of a serious accident. Aware of recent, non-artistic explosions (factory in Jiangsu, gas pipes in Kaohsiung), widely publicized in the Chinese media, concerned locals started calling the police.

Photos

Cai Guo-Qiang - Elegy (Explosion Event), The Ninth Wave at Huangpu riverfront of the Power Station of Art, Shanghai, China
Cai Guo-QiangElegy, chapter one of Elegy: Explosion Event for the opening of Cai Guo-Qiang: The Ninth Wave, realized on the riverfront of the Power Station of Art, Shanghai, China, 5:00 p.m., August 8th, 2014, approximately 8 minutes

Cai Guo-Qiang - Elegy (Explosion Event), The Ninth Wave at Huangpu riverfront of the Power Station of Art, Shanghai, China
Cai Guo-QiangElegy, chapter one of Elegy: Explosion Event for the opening of Cai Guo-Qiang: The Ninth Wave, realized on the riverfront of the Power Station of Art, Shanghai, China, 5:00 p.m., August 8th, 2014, approximately 8 minutes

Cai Guo-Qiang - Elegy (Explosion Event), The Ninth Wave at Huangpu riverfront of the Power Station of Art, Shanghai, China
Cai Guo-QiangElegy, chapter one of Elegy: Explosion Event for the opening of Cai Guo-Qiang: The Ninth Wave, realized on the riverfront of the Power Station of Art, Shanghai, China, 5:00 p.m., August 8th, 2014, approximately 8 minutes

Cai Guo-Qiang - Elegy (Explosion Event), The Ninth Wave at Huangpu riverfront of the Power Station of Art, Shanghai, China
Cai Guo-QiangElegy, chapter one of Elegy: Explosion Event for the opening of Cai Guo-Qiang: The Ninth Wave, realized on the riverfront of the Power Station of Art, Shanghai, China, 5:00 p.m., August 8th, 2014, approximately 8 minutes

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99 life-sized replicas of animals in large installation

99 life-sized replicas of animals in large installation

Cai Guo-Qiang - Wateringhole, 99 life-sized replicas of various animals, water, sand, 2013, Brisbane Gallery of Modern Art - 1
Cai Guo-Qiang, Wateringhole, 99 life-sized replicas of various animals, water, sand, Gallery of Modern Art, Brisbane, Australia, 2013

About the exhibition

Cai Guo-Qiang’s first solo exhibition in Australia will be staged at Brisbane’s Gallery of Modern Art (GOMA) from November, 2013 to April, 2014. Spanning the ground floor galleries of GOMA, this exhibition presents major, large scale installations by the Chinese artist. A centrepiece of the exhibition is a dramatic new commission, Heritage, 2013, which features 99 life-sized animals from around the world gathered together at a watering hole. Also featured is Head On, 2006, with its stream of 99 life-sized wolves leaping through the air and crashing into a glass wall. Other new work in the exhibition is inspired by the artist’s experiences in Australia, drawing upon local landscape, history and culture. There will also be a special project devised by the artist for children.

About Cai Guo-Qiang

Born in China and based in New York, Cai Guo-Qiang draws from Buddhist philosophy, Chinese history and mythology, and contemporary social issues to create spectacular installations and events of astonishing scale and beauty. His works reflect upon the globalised nature of our world, and appeal to broad audiences: he is best known for his awe-inspiring firework displays (featured at the 2008 Beijing Olympics opening and closing ceremonies). His recent solo exhibitions and projects have included the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, 2006, his record-attendance retrospective at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York and the National Art Museum of China in Beijing in 2008 and the Guggenheim Bilbao in 2009; Odyssey, a permanent gunpowder drawing installation for the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston in 2010; and his first exhibition in the Middle East at Mathaf: Arab Museum of Modern Art in Doha, Qatar, in 2011.

Photos

Cai Guo-Qiang, Heritage, 2013. 99 life-sized replicas of animals, water, sand, drip mechanism; installed dimensions variable (detail)
Cai Guo-Qiang, Wateringhole (detail), 99 life-sized replicas of various animals, water, sand, Gallery of Modern Art, Brisbane, Australia, 2013

Cai Guo-Qiang - Heritage, Wateringhole, 99 life-sized replicas of various animals, water, sand, 2013, Brisbane Gallery of Modern Art
Cai Guo-Qiang, Wateringhole (detail), 99 life-sized replicas of various animals, water, sand, Gallery of Modern Art, Brisbane, Australia, 2013

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