Back To Schedule
Friday, June 1 • 2:30pm - 3:00pm
(Material Questions) Explosive Beauty: Material Studies of Cai Guo-Qiang

Log in to save this to your schedule, view media, leave feedback and see who's attending!

Cai Guo-Qiang is one of the most prominent contemporary Chinese artists active today. Based in New York, he works and exhibits internationally. Cai uses a wide variety of media, including paintings, installations, videos, but has become especially known for his systematic use of gunpowder to create gunpowder drawings and paintings, some of them on a very large scale. For almost three decades, he worked mostly with black gunpowder but has recently (2015) started using colored gunpowders to produce more sensuous and lavish compositions. He also uses gunpowders and fireworks to create ephemeral explosion events and community projects. Cai’s works encapsulates many of the issues inherent to contemporary art, such as the adoption of a non-artistic process as a signature medium, as well as working across a wide variety of genres and media including some traditional ones all the way to ephemeral practices, community participation and the incorporation of new technologies. The GCI has embarked on a collaboration with the studio to systematically document the materials and processes used by Cai Guo-Qiang for his work across media. The goal is to understand how the adoption of gunpowder has influenced Cai’s artistic practice; how his use of materials has evolved throughout his career; and the artist’s attitude towards materials, making, and conservation. The interdisciplinary approach combines numerous interviews with the artist, technical examination of a large corpus of gunpowder drawings, paintings and installations (including early transitional works mixing painting with gunpowder), scientific analyses, as well as the use of microfadeometry and artificial weathering to predict the aging of some of his work such as the colored gunpowder paintings. This paper will detail the findings of the project to date and explore the role that material studies can play in the understanding, interpretation, display, presentation and preservation of Cai’s work.

avatar for Rachel Rivenc

Rachel Rivenc

Associate Scientist, Getty Conservation Institute
Rachel Rivenc has been working within the Modern and Contemporary Art Research Initiative at the GCI since 2006. She is currently an associate scientist. She studies the diverse materials and techniques used by contemporary artists, and their conservation. She is currently leading... Read More →

avatar for Vincent Beltran

Vincent Beltran

Assistant Scientist, Getty Conservation Institute
Vincent Beltran joined GCI Science in 2002. He has been an active participant in a range of research projects including the mechanical characterization of historic materials, the effect of reduced oxygen environments on color change, evaluations of packing case performance during... Read More →
avatar for Vincent Dion

Vincent Dion

Conservator-Methodologist, ERM - Estonian National Museum
Vincent Dion graduated from the Master in Art Conservation program at Queen's University in 2016 with a specialization in works on paper and new media. Subsequently, his interest in modern materials and background studies in chemistry led him to join the Modern and Contemporary Art... Read More →
avatar for Michael Doutre

Michael Doutre

Research Lab Associate, Getty Conservation Institute
Michael Doutre joined the GCI in 2016 to work on the Modern and Contemporary Art Research Initiative focusing on the characterization of paints used on contemporary outdoor painted sculpture, the degradation of plastics used in cultural heritage, and the effects of cleaning treatments... Read More →

Friday June 1, 2018 2:30pm - 3:00pm MDT
Texas Ballroom A Marriott Marquis Houston