The Cleveland Museum of Art Presents Cai Guo-Qiang: Cuyahoga River Lightning
Cleveland, Ohio (June 3, 2019)–Cai Guo-Qiang: Cuyahoga River Lightning features three monumental gunpowder works by the internationally acclaimed, Chinese-born artist Cai Guo-Qiang, known for his explosion events, gunpowder drawings and installations. All three works address humanity’s relationship with nature and the planet’s diminishing resources of water. Presented as part of Cuyahoga50, a citywide commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the last Cuyahoga River fire and celebration of the progress made toward clean water for all, Cai Guo-Qiang: Cuyahoga River Lightning is on view now through September 22, 2019, in the Julia and Larry Pollock Focus Gallery.
The exhibition borrows its title from the work Cuyahoga River Lightning: Drawing for the Cleveland Museum of Art, created especially for this show. In the drawing created in 2018, Cai chose to depict an aerial view of the Cuyahoga River from the bend where it burned to the point where it feeds into Lake Erie. He emphasized the waterway’s meandering form by extending the river beyond the canvas. Additional gunpowder amassed at the stretch of the river where the fire took place left a dense conglomeration of burned, dark spots and sparks, marking an increased intensity of the fiery ignition. The ignition of the drawing, recorded on video, is part of the exhibition.
“Cai is the first and foremost artist who makes use of the medium of gunpowder,” said Clarissa von Spee, chair of Asian art and James and Donna Reid curator of Chinese art. “An explosive mixture of sulfur, charcoal and saltpeter—gunpowder is a Chinese invention known in China as ‘fire-medicine’ (huoyao). By directing the destructive forces of the explosion, Cai creates unique works of art, with outcomes often beyond his control. We are delighted that Cai Guo-Qiang agreed to collaborate with us on a project that commemorates a historic moment in Cleveland that had national repercussions and inspires awareness about our endangered planet today.”
Cai choreographed the fireworks for the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games and has exhibited his gunpowder works in color at the Prado Museum in 2017 and the Uffizi in 2018.
Please view the press kit for photos documenting the creation of Cuyahoga River Lightning: Drawing for the Cleveland Museum of Art.
Cai Guo-Qiang: Cuyahoga River Lightning
Julie and Peter Raskind
In Conversation: Cai Guo-Qiang and David Stradling
Wednesday, June 26, 6:30 p.m.
FREE; ticket required
Artist Cai Guo-Qiang joins David Stradling, co-author of Where the River Burned: Carl Stokes and the Struggle to Save Cleveland, for a lively discussion of Cai’s art and social and environmental matters in the context of the exhibition Cai Guo-Qiang: Cuyahoga River Lightning. Moderated by Philip Dodd, award-winning BBC broadcaster and former director of the Institute of Contemporary Arts in London.
Curator Talk: Cai Guo-Qiang
Tuesday, June 4 and August 6, 11:00 a.m.
Wednesday, July 10 and September 4, 6:00 p.m.
Julia and Larry Pollock Focus Gallery
Clarissa von Spee, chair of Asian art and James and Donna Reid curator of Chinese art leads a tour through the exhibition Cai Guo-Qiang: Cuyahoga River Lightning, which features three monumental gunpowder works that reflect the artist’s thoughts on the state of our planet, wildlife and the world’s diminishing natural reserves of fresh water.
Sky Ladder: The Art of Cai Guo-Qiang
Friday, August 16, 8:00 p.m.
East Bell Commons, free
Sky Ladder: The Art of Cai Guo-Qiang traces the meteoric rise of Cai Guo-Qiang from childhood in Mao’s China to global art superstar. Known for his spectacular pyrotechnic displays, Cai creates Sky Ladder, his most ambitious project yet, in this breathtaking documentary.
Screened outdoors in the newly created East Bell Commons (corner of East Boulevard and Bellflower Road). The film begins at dark. Arrive early to participate in outdoor activities from Studio Go.
Screening courtesy of Netflix.
The Water Lounge
Parker Hannifin Corporation Donor Gallery
Now through September 22, 2019
Visit the Water Lounge to explore the history of Cleveland’s waterways and environmental legislation, learn about the Doan Brook project at the CMA and share your own vision for the museum’s grounds.
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About the Cleveland Museum of Art
The Cleveland Museum of Art is renowned for the quality and breadth of its collection, which includes more than 61,000 objects and spans 6,000 years of achievement in the arts. The museum is a significant international forum for exhibitions, scholarship, and performing arts. One of the top comprehensive art museums in the nation and free of charge to all, the Cleveland Museum of Art is located in the dynamic University Circle neighborhood.
The Cleveland Museum of Art is supported by a broad range of individuals, foundations and businesses in Cleveland and Northeast Ohio. The museum is generously funded by Cuyahoga County residents through Cuyahoga Arts and Culture. Additional support comes from the Ohio Arts Council, which helps fund the museum with state tax dollars to encourage economic growth, educational excellence and cultural enrichment for all Ohioans. For more information about the museum, its holdings, programs and events, call 888-CMA-0033 or visit ClevelandArt.org.