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As Oriental and Occidental ideals of beauty seem to converge ever faster, it may be appropriate to reflect on a celebrated artist who bridged cultural boundaries to achieve a global aesthetic vision. Cai Guo-Qiang (1957-) is perhaps the most recognized living Chinese artist today, and the breadth of his work extends across many media to include, besides his well-known gunpowder drawings (Figure 1), large-scale pyrotechnics for site-specific projects: a Chinese junk boat replete with herbal medicines afloat in Venice's canals, wooden shipwrecked ruins, sculptural rock formations encircling a hot tub with live human occupants, paper lanterns, and patterned Issey Miyake dresses. Although Cai's works may seem entirely estranged from his Chinese origins at first glance, they are intimately derived from the landscape of his youth—even as they reflect the cross-cultural currents imparted by his expatriation to Japan in 1986 and his residence since 1995, New York City.
Lam SM. Toward a Global BeautyThe Art of Cai Guo-Qiang. Arch Facial Plast Surg. 2004;6(3):216. doi:10.1001/archfaci.6.3.216