In celebration of the Fourth of July, here are a few artists who have used fireworks and explosions in their work, from drawing on walls to collaborating with research laboratories to creatively disposing of others’ artworks.
Cai Guo-Qiang is probably the best known of the pyrotechnic artists for his massive public explosion events. In April this year, he used forty thousand rockets to create a mural on the wall of the Geffen Contemporary at MOCA. Check out his website for more videos.
Verner Molin was a pioneer of explosive engraving. He would paint his image on a copper sheet, and then use plastic explosives to blast the design onto the copper. The resulting plate could be used to make prints.
In her Siluetas Series, performance artist Ana Mendieta sculpted her silhouette into the earth, exploring the body’s relationship to nature and time. In 1976 she created Anima, Silueta de Cohetes (Anima, Silhouette of Fireworks), a more fleeting iteration of the theme.
Evelyn Rosenberg worked with the Energetic Materials Research and Testing Center in New Mexico to create her “detonograph” technique. She sculpts her image out of plaster, leaves, feathers, and other textures and then uses explosives to make an impression on a sheet of metal.
Tom O’Day runs an “art disposal service” to recycle both his own and others’ unwanted artworks. In 1994, he collected over seventy-five artworks for disposal, laid them out in a field, and blew them up. He used the rubble to create new artworks.
SCAD professor Matthew Stromberg uses rocket fuel, molten sulfur, and machine guns to execute his carefully planned abstract compositions.
Alexandre Farto aka Vhils
Street artist Alexandre Farto aka Vhils works in negative images. He uses chisels, drills, and explosives to chip away at the surface of the walls and create amazing murals. Last year he collaborated with the band Orelha Negra to create a music video featuring his explosive works.
Rosemarie Fiore uses buckets, rails, and poles to control the detonation of colorful fireworks on her canvases.