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Cai Guo-Qiang: Fallen Blossoms
December 11, 2009 - March 21, 2010
Light Passage Autumn
Cai Guo-Qiang (b. 1957, Quanzhou, China; Lives in New York)
Light Passage—Autumn
Gunpowder on paper
400 x 600 cm (157.48 x 236.22 in.)
Collection of the artist
Photo by Tatsumi Masatoshi, courtesy Cai Studio

Cai Guo-Qiang: Fallen Blossoms
December 11, 2009 - March 21, 2010
Cai Guo-Qiang: Fallen Blossoms is the result of a close collaboration between the Philadelphia Museum of Art and The Fabric Workshop and Museum. Conceived as an homage to the late Anne d’Harnoncourt, former director of the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the exhibition gracefully addresses time’s passing and the role that memory and memorials play in attending to the past.

Fallen Blossoms includes five components: at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, Light Passage, a series of gunpowder drawings, and Fallen Blossoms: Explosion Project, a one-time explosion event on the East Terrace on December 11, 2009. At the Fabric Workshop and Museum, a video of the Explosion Project as well as two additional new works, Time Scroll and Time Flies Like a Weaving Shuttle, are on view through March 1, 2010.

Light Passage
Cai Guo-Qiang: Light Passage
Installation view
Philadelphia Museum of Art
Light Passage is a meditation on the passing of time in which the artist invokes the four seasons, a recurrent trope in Asian art, to symbolize the ephemeral nature of life. The natural elements depicted by Cai’s finely tuned technique of igniting gunpowder on paper—trees, flower blossoms, water, birds—metaphorically express the themes of death and renewal. Three of the drawings, Spring, Summer, and Winter are mounted on panels, directly referencing historical screen painting traditions. By using gunpowder on paper, the artist reveals the fine balance between the destructive nature of the material and its aesthetic potential when employed in art making. Hung above the drawings and in close resonance with them, is 99 Golden Boats, a sculptural installation that contrasts the precious yet immutable gold of the boats with the flowing, river-like pattern implied by their succession. It is the first time that this group of works is exhibited in the United States.

Exhibition Minutes

An exploration of the transience of life...
Listen to or download Artist Cai Guo-Qiang's 4-part Podcast
Available in Exhibition Minutes Podcast - iTunes


Cai Guo-Qiang: Fallen Blossoms has been funded at the Philadelphia Museum of Art by anonymous donors in memory of Anne d’Harnoncourt, and at The Fabric Workshop and Museum by the members of The Fabric Workshop and Museum. Additional support at the Philadelphia Museum of Art has been provided by Shiseido.


Organized in collaboration with the Fabric Workshop and Museum.


Carlos Basualdo • the Keith L. and Katherine Sachs Curator of Contemporary Art
Adelina Vlas • Assistant Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art


Gallery 172, first floor

For additional information on the exhibition at the Fabric Workshop and Museum please visit: