Cai Guo-Qiang Lights “Explosive” Tree On National Mall

Received US State Department Medal Of Arts

Cai Guo-Qiang, one of China’s best-known (and certainly most globetrotting) contemporary artists, took tree-lighting into his own hands this past Friday on the National Mall in Washington DC. Commemorating the Sackler Gallery’s 25th anniversary, Cai rigged a 40-foot live pine tree with 2,000 black smoke drops from Grucci Fireworks for his interpretation of an “explosive” lighting ceremony outside the gallery, after a gauntlet of strict regulations and permits. Cai hoped to create two trees, one live and one made entirely out of smoke. The tree explosion took place minutes after Cai received a US State Department Medal of Arts from Hillary Clinton. Speaking to the crowd afterward, Cai expressed his hopes for the fostering of an open international arts community.


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