Cai in October 2010
|Education||Shanghai Theatre Academy|
Cai Guo-Qiang was born in 1957 in Quanzhou, Fujian Province, China, his father, Cai Ruiqin, was a calligrapher and traditional painter who worked in a bookstore. As a result, Cai Guo-Qiang was exposed early on to Western literature as well as traditional Chinese art forms; as an adolescent, Cai witnessed the social effects of the Cultural Revolution; he grew up in a setting where explosions were common, where “gunpowder [was] used in both good ways and bad, in destruction and reconstruction”.
Cai began painting in the early 1970s; his work turned away from the calligraphic and ink wash disciplines practiced by his father and towards the Western practice of oil and watercolor painting. Cai studied Scenic Design at the Shanghai Theatre Academy between 1982 and 1985. During that same time, he began to experiment with adding gunpowder into his painting compositions “seeking to use the forces of nature to reduce my own control of the canvas.” After moving to Japan in 1986, Cai spent years honing his signature use of gunpowder. Cai’s first solo exhibition to gain significant global attention was Primeval Fireball (1991, P3 art and environment, Tokyo). For most audiences, it was an introduction to Cai’s medium and method; an encompassing presentation of his intermingling of installation art, gunpowder drawing and conceptual performance; the exhibition was Cai’s debut as a mature artist; the installation solidified his reputation as a “gunpowder artist” and laid out his conceptual focus for the next decade by kickstarting his decade-long series Projects for Extraterrestrials. Rather than literally, the term “Extraterrestrials” in this context is used as a challenge to adjust the vision of the world from a Ptolemaic fixation to an inclusive universal mentality - where humans are part of the cosmic landscape; the most notable works in this series include: 45.5 Meteorite Craters Made by Humans on Their 45.5 Hundred Million Year Old Planet: Project for Extraterrestrials No. 3 (1990), Fetus Movement II: Project for Extraterrestrials No. 9 (1992), The Horizon from the Pan-Pacific: Project for Extraterrestrials No. 14 (1994), Project to Extend the Great Wall of China by 10,000 Meters: Project for Extraterrestrials No. 10 (1993), Restrained Violence–Rainbow: Project for Extraterrestrials No. 25 (1995), Dragon Sight Sees Vienna: Project for Extraterrestrials No. 32 (1999).
In 1995, Cai was sponsored by a grant from the Asian Cultural Council to move to the United States, participate in a residency as part of the P.S.1 Studio Program. At P.S.1, he developed The Century with Mushroom Clouds: Project for the 20th Century (1996) and was short listed for The Hugo Boss Prize 1996 for his installation Cry Dragon/Cry Wolf: The Ark of Genghis Khan. He continued to exhibit internationally, participating in The Second and Third Asia-Pacific Triennial of Contemporary Art, at the Queensland Art Gallery, Brisbane (1996, 1999) and winning the Golden Lion at the 48th Venice Biennale in 1999 for Venice’s Rent Collection Courtyard.
These successes lead to greater recognition in the United States, starting with the realization of How is Your Feng Shui? Year 2000 Project for Manhattan (2000) for the 2000 Whitney Biennial in which Cai offered feng shui remedies to visitors using an interactive computer program. In 2004, Cai Guo-Qiang: Inopportune at the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art (MASS MoCA) in North was awarded the Best Monograph Show and Best Installation in a Museum by the United States branch of the International Association of Art Critics.
In 2005 he debuted his daytime explosion events with Black Rainbow: Explosion Project for Edinburgh and Black Rainbow: Explosion Project for Valencia (2005), for which he exploded a black smoke rainbow over each city.
The combined achievement of the touring retrospective exhibition I Want to Believe (2008) at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum and his appointment as the Director of Visual and Special Effects for the Beijing Olympic Games placed Cai in the spotlight of critical and popular attention. This key point in Cai’s career established him as a global powerhouse for artistic production; that year he was also awarded the 7th Hiroshima Art Prize. Since then his many solo exhibitions and projects include Saraab (2011, Doha), 1040M Underground (2011, Ukraine), Da Vincis do Povo (2013, Brasilia, São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro), Falling Back to Earth (2013, Brisane), The Ninth Wave (2014, Shanghai), There and Back Again (2015, Yokohama), My Stories of Painting (2016, Maastricht), The Spirit of Painting (2017, Madrid), Flora Commedia (2018, Florence) and In the Volcano (2019, Naples).
Cai Guo-Qiang's practice draws on a variety of symbols, narratives, traditions and materials; these include fengshui, Chinese medicine, shanshui paintings, science, flora and fauna, portraiture, and fireworks. Much of his work draws on Maoist/Socialist concepts for content, especially his gunpowder drawings, which strongly reflect Mao Zedong's tenet "destroy nothing, create nothing." Cai has said: “In some sense, Mao Zedong influenced all artists from our generation with his utopian romance and sentiment." Cai was among the first artists to contribute to discussions of Chinese art as a viable intellectual narrative with its own historical context and theoretical framework.
Cai's work is mainly inspired by traditional Chinese culture, it also draws from political topics. As a student, Cai made works consisting of stick-figure or abstract patterns in oil and burnt gunpowder; this giving him a place in the experimental ferment preceding the '85 New Wave. However, Cai moved to Japan in 1986 as the movement was building.
Projects for Extraterrestrials
In 1990, Cai began Projects for Extraterrestrials, which consisted of using large fireworks and extensive trails of blazing gunpowder that span across landscapes and building surfaces. Site-specific, the projects were implemented in various locations throughout the world. Project to Extend the Great Wall of China by 10,000 Meters: Project for Extraterrestrials No. 10 (1993) was representative of the nature of the projects as a whole, as it involved an approximately six-mile-long gunpowder fuse that extended beyond the western end of the Great Wall at the edge of the Gobi Desert. The fuse burned for about 15 minutes after it was lit, creating a dragon-like pattern across the dunes that was indicative of China's imperial and mythological heritage; the title for the series refers to Cai's inspiration for the project: the belief in a need for a new, higher perspective in which celebrations of pure energy replace earthly conflicts, and gunpowder, the "material fuel" of such conflict, becomes a system that delivers beauty and joy.
Cai initially began working with gunpowder drawings and ephemeral sculptures to foster spontaneity and confront the suppressive, controlled artistic tradition and social climate in China. While living in Japan from 1986 to 1995, Cai explored the properties of gunpowder in his drawings, an inquiry that eventually led to his experimentation with explosives on a massive scale and the development of his signature "explosion events". In 1995, he moved to New York with a grant from the New York-based Asian Cultural Council, an international organization that promotes artistic exchanges between Asian countries and the United States.
In 2004, Cai Guo-Qiang installed Inopportune: Stage One and Inopportune: Stage Two at the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art (MASS MoCA); the piece was duplicated in 2008 at the Guggenheim Museum in New York. MASS MoCA describes the installation as such:
Nine cars arced through the 300 foot long gallery, tumbling and suspended in mid-air as if by stop-action. Long transparent rods radiated from the car, pulsing with dazzling multicolored light. An explosive moment, expanded in time and space as if in a dream, the cars formed the centerpiece of Inopportune by Cai Guo Qiang.
An adjacent gallery opened for the installation housed Inopportune: Stage 2, in which nine realistic tigers also hovered in the air, each one pierced by hundreds of arrows; the imagery in this gallery referred to the famous 13th-century Chinese story epitomizing bravery, in which a man named Wu Song rescued a village by slaying a man-eating tiger. In yet a third space, a phantom car bristling with fireworks floated like a ghost through the glittering illusion of Times Square at night.
Engaging images of our unsettled world, Inopportune created a theatrical, psychologically charged space in which to reflect on some of the most pressing dilemmas and contradictions affecting us such as terrorism and cultural, religious conflict, violence and beauty, the meaning of heroism.— MASS MoCA, Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art
Inopportune: Stage One (2004) is also featured in the main entrance of the Seattle Art Museum.
City of Flowers in the Sky
As a tribute to the center of the Italian Renaissance, Cai Guo-Qiang created an explosive depiction of flowers using fireworks across the blue skies of Florence, Italy, as his canvas, on November 18, 2018.  The performance art piece lasted about ten minutes on Piazzale Michelangelo overlooking the city. During the event, which was inspired by Botticelli's "Primavera," 50,000 custom-made fireworks released smoke that resembled thousands of flowers; the spectacle introduced the Cai's solo exhibition, Flora Commedia: Cai Quo-Qiang at the Uffizi.
In an interview in The Brooklyn Rail, Cai said of his piece Light Cycle, commissioned by Creative Time in 2003: "Because this was a post 9/11 New York I wanted to provide an anchor and reference point for people to feel hope; that is why I picked the reservoir in Central Park and made a full circle. It is kind of a protection, a symbol for comfort and fullness." 
Cai is one of the most well-known and influential Chinese contemporary artists, having represented his country at the Venice Biennale in 1999 with his project Venice's Rent Collection Courtyard, a time-based sculpture which he had artisans recreate the Rent Collection Courtyard, a famous work of Socialist Realist propaganda sculpture. Cai returned to Venice in 2005 to curate the Chinese pavilion.
His work has also attracted controversy. Venice's Rent Collection Courtyard drew condemnation within China from the original authors of the Socialist Realist sculpture for destroying their "spiritual property." Some critics have asserted that while his work references politics and philosophy, he seems to switch positions at will and that the references seem relatively opportunistic.
In response to the critical backlash against his appropriation in the "Venice Rent Collection Courtyard," Cai has said in an interview in The Brooklyn Rail:
|“||My idea of making this work is not to do any criticism or replication but to focus on what it means for sculptors to create realist sculptures in the time the work was created. ...The end goal is not to make perfect sculptures and have them exhibited elsewhere and then have them collected somewhere; the key is to focus on the process of fabrication of these artworks, to pay attention to the process of the artists making these sculptures, rather than where these sculptures will end up and how they will look in the end.||”|
From May 2–September 25, 2010, Cai was featured in the solo exhibition Cai Guo-Qiang: Peasant Da Vincis, which presented works from peasants in China; this includes homemade airplanes, helicopters, submarines, and robots.
Cai also created Odyssey, a permanent gunpowder drawing for the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston in Fall 2010. Installed as part of the museum's ongoing Portal Project and stretching across forty-two panels, it is one of his largest gunpowder drawings to date. Another solo exhibition, 'Cai Guo-Qiang – 1040M Underground, was on view at the new foundation IZOLYATSIA. Platform for Cultural Initiatives in Donetsk, Ukraine through the fall of 2011.
In December 2011, Cai Guo-Qiang: Saraab opened at Mathaf: Arab Museum of Modern Art in Doha, Qatar - the artist's largest since his 2008 retrospective at the Guggenheim Museum and his first solo exhibition ever in a Middle Eastern country. Saraab (mirage in Arabic) features more than fifty works, including seventeen newly commissioned pieces, thirty recent works and nine documentary videos; the exhibition opened on December 5th with Black Ceremony, the artist's largest ever daytime explosion event and includes several large-scale site-specific installations. In 2016, he curated What About the Art? Contemporary Art from China at Al Riwaq in Doha.
In 2016, Cai was tasked with designing the Berggruen Philosophy Prize's trophy.
Cai is one of six artist-curators who made selections for Artistic License: Six Takes on the Guggenheim Collection, on view at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum from May 24, 2019 through January 12, 2020.
Grants and Awards: 
- Fondation Cartier pour l’art contemporain, Paris, France, 1993
- Benesse Prize in conjunction with TransCulture, 46th Venice Biennale, Venice, Italy, 1995
- Japan Cultural Design Prize, Tokyo, Japan, 1995
- P.S.1 The Institute for Contemporary Art: National and International Studio Program, Asian Cultural Council Grant, New York, USA, 1995–1996
- Oribe Award, Gifu, Japan, 1997
- Golden Lion, 48th Venice Biennale, Venice, Italy, 1999
- CalArts/Alpert Award in the Arts, Valencia, USA, 2001
- Best Monographic Museum Show (for Cai Guo-Qiang: Inopportune) and Best Installation or Single Work in a Museum (for Inopportune: Stage One),
- International Association of Art Critics, United States Section, New England Chapter, 2005
- Hiroshima Art Prize, Hiroshima City Culture Foundation, Hiroshima, Japan, 2007
- 20th Fukuoka Prize for Arts and Culture, Fukuoka, Japan, 2009
- First Place for Best Project in a Public Space (for Cai Guo-Qiang: Fallen Blossoms), AICA, 2010
- 24th Praemium Imperiale – Lifetime Achievement in the Arts (Painting), Tokyo, Japan, 2012
- U.S. Department of State ~ Medal of Arts, Washington, D.C., 2012
- Barnett and Annalee Newman Foundation Award, 2015
- Bonnefanten Award for Contemporary Art (BACA), Maastricht, The Netherlands, 2016
- Asia Arts Award Honoree, Asia Society’s Asia Arts Game Changers, Hong Kong, 2016
- The Japan Foundation Awards, Tokyo, Japan, 2016
- Honorary Doctor of Fine Arts, Rhode Island School of Design, Providence, US, 2018
- Core member of the creative team and Director of Visual and Special Effects for the opening and closing ceremonies of the 2008 Olympics in Beijing.
- Director of fireworks festivities for China’s 60th National Day, Beijing, 2009
- Fireworks Artistic Director, Republic of China Centennial, 2010
- Core member of the creative team, Taipei International Flora Exposition, 2010
The artist moved from Beijing to New York in 1995, but as of 2017, continues to maintain a separate house in the former. In the mid-2010s, he made his gunpowder paintings in a Long Island fireworks factory, his Manhattan studio was renovated by Rem Koolhaas's Office for Metropolitan Architecture. Guo-Qiang intends for it to eventually become a foundation with public viewing, he sought a property, unlike his prior studios, where he would both work and live with his family, fulfilling a goal to combine his personal and professional lives.
Guo-Qiang purchased a former horse farm in Chester, New Jersey, in 2011 from an Olympic equestrian; the property was redesigned by architect Frank Gehry and his former student Trattie Davies. They converted the barn into a 14,000-square-foot studio, the stables into archives, and its hayloft into an exhibition space. Guo-Qiang had met Gehry in 2009 at Guo-Qiang's Guggenheim Bilbao solo show, and their friendship included a 2013 trip to Guo-Qiang's hometown of Quanzhou to propose a contemporary art museum; the two began work on Guo-Qiang's Chester property soon after he purchased it. The 9,700-square-foot house is built outward from the original, stone core structure in glass and sequoia. At Guo-Qiang's request, the titanium roofing curls at their edges, like flying carpets; the house has multiple small balconies. The artist lives in the Chester house with his wife and two daughters, he wears his hair short, like a drill sergeant.
Selected solo exhibitions
- Office of The Foreign Correspondents' Club of Japan, Tokyo, Cai Guo-Qiang’s Painting, May 18–June 16, 1987.
- Kigoma , Tokyo, Cai Guo-Qiang: Gunpowder Art, August 9–21, 1987.
- Kigoma, Tokyo, Explosions and Space Holes: Cai Guo-Qiang, March 5–17, 1989.
- Osaka Contemporary Art Center, Cai Guo Qiang: Works 1988/89, February 5–10, 1990.
- P3 art and environment, Tokyo, Primeval Fireball: The Project for Projects, February 26–April 20, 1991. Exh. cat.
- IBM-Kawasaki City Gallery, Wailing Wall-From the Engine of Four Hundred Cars, October 15–26, 1992. Exh. cat.
- P3 art and environment, Tokyo, Long Mai: The Dragon Meridian, January 22–March 20, 1993.
- Naoshima Contemporary Art Museum (Bennesse House, Naoshima), Cai Guo-Qiang, April—July, 1993.
- Gallery APA, Nagoya, Cai Guo-Qiang: Calendar of Life, January 7–30, 1994. Exh. cat.
- Setagaya Art Museum, Tokyo, Chaos: Cai Guo-Qiang, September 20–November 3, 1994. Exh. cat.
- Tokyo Gallery, Cai Guo-Qiang: Concerning Flame, May 9–28, 1994.
- Iwaki City Art Museum, Fukushima, Cai Guo-Qiang: From the Pan-Pacific, March 6–31, 1994. Exh. cat.
- Queens Museum of Art, New York, Cai Guo-Qiang: Cultural Melting Bath: Projects for the 20th Century, August 1–October 26, 1997. Exh. cat.
- Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, Humlebaek, Cai Guo-Qiang: Flying Dragon in the Heavens, March 8–April 27, 1997. Exh. cat.
- Eslite Gallery (Cherng Piin) , Taipei, Day Dreaming: Cai Guo-Qiang, May 30–June 21, 1998. Exh. cat.
- Kunsthalle Wien, Vienna, Cai Guo-Qiang: I Am the Y2K Bug, November 4, 1999–February 27, 2000. Exh. cat.
- Fondation Cartier pour l'art contemporain, Paris, Cai Guo-Qiang, April 5–May 28, 2000. Exh. cat.
- Musée d'Art Contemporain de Lyon, Lyon, Cai Guo-Qiang: An Arbitrary History, October 31, 2001–January 6, 2002. Exh. cat. Traveled to S.M.A.K. (Stedelijk Museum voor Actuele Kunst), Ghent, March 29–June 1, 2003.
- Charles H. Scott Gallery, Vancouver, Cai Guo-Qiang: Impression Oil Drawings, August 3–September 23, 2001.
- Contemporary Art Gallery and Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden, Vancouver, Cai Guo-Qiang: Performing Chinese Ink Painting, July 28–September 23, 2001.
- Gallery Iwaki, Cai Guo-Qiang: Iwaki Ninety-Nine Pagodas, August 18–28, 2001. Exh. cat.
- Shanghai Art Museum, Shanghai, Cai Guo-Qiang, February 1–March 1, 2002. Exh. cat.
- Galleria Civica di Arte Contemporanea, Trento, Cai Guo-Qiang: Ethereal Flowers, September 7–November 24, 2002. Exh. cat.
- Hakone Open-Air Museum, Cai Guo-Qiang's CHADO Pavilion-Homage to Tenshin Okakura, May 25–September 23, 2002. Exh. cat.
- Asia Society Museum, New York, Cai Guo-Qiang - An Explosion Event: Light Cycle Over Central Park, September 9–December 14, 2003. Exh. cat.
- MASS MoCA (Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art), North Adams, MA, Cai Guo-Qiang: Inopportune, December 11, 2004–October 30, 2005. Exh. cat.
- Arthur M. Sackler Gallery and Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C., Cai Guo-Qiang: Traveler, October 30, 2004–April 24, 2005.
- Fruitmarket Gallery, Edinburgh, Scotland, Cai Guo-Qiang: Life Beneath the Shadow, July 30–September 25, 2005. Exh. cat.
- Institut Valenciá d'Art Modern, Valencia, Cai Guo-Qiang: On Black Fireworks, May 20–June 12, 2005. Exh. cat.
- Zacheta National Gallery of Art, Warsaw, Cai Guo-Qiang: Paradise, June 17–August 28, 2005. Exh. cat.
- SITE Santa Fe (organized by MASS MoCA, Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art, North Adams), Santa Fe, NM, Cai Guo-Qiang: Inopportune, January 21–March 26, 2006.
- Deutsche Guggenheim (organized by the Deutsche Bank Collection), Berlin, Cai Guo-Qiang: Head On, August 26–October 15, 2006. Exh. cat.
- Shawinigan Space (organized in collaboration with National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa and MASS MoCA (Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art), North Adams), Cai Guo-Qiang: Long Scroll, June 10–October 1, 2006. Exh. cat.
- Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, Cai Guo-Qiang on the Roof: Transparent Monument, April 25–October 29, 2006. Exh. cat.
- San Gimignano Mountain and Galleria Continua, San Gimignano, Cai Guo-Qiang: Stage, March 25–April 29, 2006.
- Eslite Gallery (Cherng Piin), Taipei, Captured Wind Arrested Shadow: Cai Guo-Qiang and Lin Hwai-min’s Wind Shadow, November 22–December 10, 2006. Exh. cat.
- Shiseido Gallery, Tokyo, Light Passage - Cai Guo-Qiang & Shiseido, June 23–August 12, 2007. Exh. cat.
- Seattle Art Museum, Cai Guo-Qiang: Inopportune: Stage One, Semi-permanent installation, opened May 5, 2007.
- Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, Cai Guo-Qiang: I Want to Believe, February 22–May 28, 2008. Exh. cat.
- Hiroshima City Museum of Contemporary Art, The 7th Hiroshima Art Prize: Cai Guo-Qiang, October 25, 2008–January 12, 2009. Exh. cat.
- Taipei Fine Arts Museum, Cai Guo-Qiang: Hanging Out in the Museum, November 21, 2009–February 21, 2010. Exh. cat.
- Philadelphia Museum of Art and The Fabric Workshop and Museum, Philadelphia, Cai Guo-Qiang: Fallen Blossoms, December 11, 2009–March 21, 2010. Exh. cat.
- Rockbund Art Museum, Shanghai, Cai Guo-Qiang: Peasant Da Vincis, May 4–July 25, 2010. Exh. cat.
- Musée d’Art Moderne et d’Art Contemporain, Nice, Cai Guo-Qiang: Travels in the Mediterranean, June 11, 2010–January 9, 2011. Exh. cat.
- National Museum of Singapore (organized by Deutsche Bank Collection), Cai Guo-Qiang: Head On, July 2–August 31, 2010.
- Museo Universitario Arte Contemporáneo, Mexico City, Cai Guo-Qiang: Sunshine and Solitude, December 1, 2010–March 27, 2011. Exh. cat.
- Mathaf: Arab Museum of Modern Art, Doha, Cai Guo-Qiang: Saraab, December 5, 2011–May 26, 2012. Exh. cat.
- Brown University Cohen Gallery, Providence, Move Along, Nothing to See Here, September 14–October 28, 2011.
- IZOLYATSIA. Platform for Cultural Initiatives, Donetsk, Cai Guo-Qiang – 1040M Underground, August 27–November 13, 2011.
- Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles (MOCA), Cai Guo-Qiang: Sky Ladder, April 8–September 3, 2012. Exh. cat.
- Zhejiang Art Museum, Hangzhou, Cai Guo-Qiang: Spring, April 20–June 3, 2012. Exh. cat.
- Faurschou Foundation, Copenhagen, A Clan of Boats, September 6–December 7, 2012. Exh. cat.
- Centro Cultural Banco do Brasil and Museu dos Correios, Brasilia, Cai Guo-Qiang: Da Vincis do Povo, February 5–March 31, 2013. Exh. cat. Traveled to Centro Cultural Banco do Brasil and Prédio Histórico dos Correios, São Paulo, April 21–June 30, and Centro Cultural Banco do Brasil and Centro Cultural Correios, Rio de Janeiro, August 6–September 22.
- Queensland Art Gallery | Gallery of Modern Art, Brisbane, Falling Back to Earth, November 23, 2013–May 12, 2014. Exh. cat.
- Power Station of Art, Shanghai, Cai Guo-Qiang: The Ninth Wave, August 8–October 26, 2014. Exh. cat.
- Fundación Proa, Buenos Aires, Cai Guo-Qiang: Impromptu, December 14, 2014–March 8, 2015. Exh. cat.
- Whitworth Art Gallery, Manchester, Cai Guo-Qiang: Unmanned Nature, February 14–June 21, 2015.
- Museo della Scienza e della Tecnologia Leonardo da Vinci, Milan, Cai Guo-Qiang: Peasant da Vincis, September 9, 2015–January 6, 2016.
- Satoyama Museum of Contemporary Art, Tokamachi, Niigata, Cai Guo-Qiang: Penglai / Hōrai, July 25–September 13, 2015. Exh. cat.
- Yokohama Museum of Art, Cai Guo-Qiang: There and Back Again, July 11–October 18, 2015. Exh. cat.
- Museo Orgánico Romerillo, Havana, GMoCA (Green Museum of Contemporary Art), May 22–June 22, 2015.
- Bonnefantenmuseum, Maastricht, Cai Guo-Qiang: My Stories of Painting, September 30, 2016–May 1, 2017. Exh. cat.
- Pushkin State Museum of Fine Arts, Moscow, Cai Guo-Qiang: October, September 13–November 12, 2017. Exh. cat.
- Museo Nacional Del Prado, Madrid, The Spirit of Painting. Cai Guo-Qiang at the Prado, October 25, 2017–March 4, 2018.
- The Uffizi Galleries, Florence, Flora Commedia: Cai Guo-Qiang at the Uffizi, November 20, 2018–February 17, 2019. Exh. cat.
- National Archaeological Museum of Naples, In the Volcano: Cai Guo-Qiang and Pompeii, February 23–May 20, 2019. Exh. cat.
Cai Guo Qiang, and P3 Art and environment. Kanesaka Rumiko, ed. Cai Guo-Qiang: Primeval Fireball. The Project for Projects. Tokyo: P3 Art and environment, 1991.
Szeemann, Harald and Cecilia Liveriero Lavelli. La Biennale di Venezia 48 Esposizione Inernazional d’arte, pp. 124-127, 362. Venice: La Biennale di Venezia, 1999.
Krens, Thomas, Alexandra Munroe, David Joselit, Miwon Kwon, and Wang Hui. Cai Guo-Qiang: I Want to Believe. New York: Guggenheim Museum, 2008. Editions in English, Spanish, and Chinese. ISBN 978-0-89207-371-9
Articles and Essays:
Cai Guo-Qiang with You Jindong. “Painting with Gunpowder.” Leonardo (Cambridge, MA) 21, no. 3 (1988), pp. 251–54.
Friis-Hansen, Dana. “Cai Guo-Qiang at the Iwaki City Art Museum.” Art in America (New York) 82, no. 11 (Nov. 1994), p. 144. In English.
Schwabsky, Barry. “Tao and Physics: The Art of Cai Guo-Qiang.” Artforum International (New York) 35, no. 10 (Summer 1997), pp. 118–121, 155.
Dal Lago, Francesca. “Open and Everywhere: Chinese Artists at the Venice Biennale.” ArtAsiaPacific (Sydney) 25 (2000), pp. 24–26.
Heartney, Eleanor. “Cai Guo-Qiang: Illuminating the New China.” Art in America (New York) 5 (May 2002), pp. 92–97, cover.
Cotter, Holland. “Public Art Both Violent and Gorgeous.” The New York Times (New York) (Sept. 14, 2003), Arts & Leisure, section 2, pp. 1, 33.
Cohn, Don. “Cai Guo-Qiang: The Art of War.”ArtAsiaPacific (New York) 57 (Mar./Apr. 2008), pp. 98–105.
Schjeldahl, Peter. “Gunpowder Plots.” The New Yorker (New York) 84, no. 2 (Feb. 25, 2008), The Art World, pp. 82–85.
Tufnell, Ben. “Atomic Tourism and False Memories: Cai Guo-Qiang’s The Century with Mushroom Clouds.” Tate Papers (London) no. 17, May 11, 2012.
Pollack, Barbara. “As Seen Here: Views of Chinese Contemporary Art in the U.S.” Leap Magazine (Guangzhou) (Feb. 2014), pp. 122-131.
Wolfe Alexandra. “Cai Guo-Qiang on the State of Contemporary Chinese Art.” The Wall Street Journal. Apr. 24, 2015.
Pollack, Barbara. "Redefining China’s Artists. In Qatar.” The New York Times, Mar. 20, 2016, p. AR23.
Gotthardt, Alexxa. “Explosives Artist Cai Guo-Qiang’s Story Comes to Netflix.” Artsy, Oct. 10, 2016. https://www.artsy.net/article/artsy-editorial-explosives-artist-cai-guo-qiang-s-story-comes-to-netflix.
Blàvia, Marta. “Cai Guo-Qiang: A lifelong Journey into the Spirit of Painting.” Yishu: Journal of Contemporary Chinese Art (Taipei) vol. 17, No. 3 (May/June 2018), pp. 34-47. In English.
- Friis-Hansen, Zaya, Serizawa, Dana, Octavio, Takashi (2002). Cai Guo-Qiang.
|url=(help)CS1 maint: Multiple names: authors list (link)
- Fei Dawei, ed., Cai Guo-Qiang, (London: Thames & Hudson and Paris: Fondation Cartier pour l’art contemporain, 2000), 122.
- Cai Guo-Qiang: My Stories of Painting, (Maastricht: Bonnefantenmuseum, 2016), 78.
- Cai Guo-Qiang: Hanging Out in the Museum, (Taipei: Taipei Fine Arts Museum, 2009), 278.
- Cai Guo Qiang, and P3 Art and environment. Kanesaka Rumiko, ed. Cai Guo-Qiang: Primeval Fireball. The Project for Projects, (Tokyo: P3 Art and environment, 1991), unpaginated.
- Thomas Krens, et al., Cai Guo-Qiang: I Want to Believe, (New York: Guggenheim Museum, 2008), 297.
- "Cai Guo-Qiang website - CV".
- "The artist who 'paints' with explosives". CNN Style. 2016-04-08. Retrieved 2018-12-17.
- Alexandra Munroe. Cai Guo-Qiang: I Want to Believe, Exhibition Catalogue, pp.20-41. 2008. Guggenheim Museum Publications. 
- Vine, Richard (October 2008). "China Envy". Art in America. 96 (9): 142–145.
- Holzwarth, Hans W. (2009). 100 Contemporary Artists A-Z (Taschen's 25th anniversary special ed.). Köln: Taschen. p. 94. ISBN 978-3-8365-1490-3.
- "Artist's work explosive". Archived from the original on 2009-07-03.
- 李平. "Chinese artist creates explosive art inspired by Renaissance masters - USA - Chinadaily.com.cn". usa.chinadaily.com.cn. Retrieved 2018-11-21.
- "cai guo qiang lights florence's sky with 50,000 fireworks that resemble flowers". designboom | architecture & design magazine. 2018-11-19. Retrieved 2018-11-21.
- Pearlman, Ellen (April 2008). "In Conversation: Cai Guo-Qiang with Ellen Pearlman". The Brooklyn Rail.
- http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m1248/is_10_88/ai_66306816 Who Owns the People's Art?, Art in America
- http://www.artnet.com/magazineus/reviews/davis/davis3-13-08.asp Cai Guo-Killer, Artnet Magazine
- Pearlman, Ellen (April 2008). "In Conversation: Cai Gui-Qiang with Ellen Pearlman". The Brooklyn Rail.
- "Chinese contemporary art: Fountainheads: Two exhibitions focus on Chinese creativity". The Economist. 15 April 2016. Retrieved 15 April 2016.
- "Review: Fireworks in 'Sky Ladder: The Art of Cai Guo-Qiang'". The New York Times. 30 October 2016.
- Miller, M. H. (August 18, 2017). "An Architect and an Artist Walk Into a Barn". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331.
- "Cai Guo-Qiang website - Curriculum Vitae".
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- Biography, interviews, essays, artwork images and video clips from PBS series Art:21 -- Art in the Twenty-First Century - Season 3 (2005).
- Website with information on Cai Guo-Qiang
- PBS documentary on Cai Guo-Qiang
- Traces And Other Impacts -the work of Cai Guo Qiang, tofu-magazine #3
- Cai Guo-Qiang+Cloudgate Dance Theatre 2006 wind Shadow
- Cao Guo-Qiang with Ellen Pearlman, The Brooklyn Rail (April 2008)
- Alexandra Munroe Exhibition Essay, Cai Guo Qiang: I Want to Believe (2008)
- Forbes article on Cai Guo-Qiang