A Survey of Fireworks-Related Art


With the Fourth of July weekend looming so attractively on the horizon, we’ve got pyrotechnics on our minds. If you’re planning on seeing some or setting some off, flip through our slideshow of firework- and sparkler-related art and daydream away. Ooh! Aah! Ow! That does not look safe, Ryan McGinley. Sure it’s cinematic, but girl’s getting singed! Which reminds us, conversely, some of these contemporary works of art can be used as “don’t” illustrations for safety tips. Enjoy!

Nude youth frolicking through sparkling explosions is one of Ryan McGinley’s staple motifs. It has a sort of magical quality to it, like a fabricated, bragging story of a cra-a-azy party that never took place, you liar. Unless somewhere out there someone’s getting propelled wrong-end-first through a cloud of fireworks… Ryan McGinley, Fireworks Hysteric (2007-2008)

The same artist who chucked 99 taxidermy-ed wolves across a museum, gets to set one on fire. Of course. Cai Guo-Qiang, Fallen Blossoms (2009)

It’s a metaphor for the “hysterical male Don Juan” and it’s as theatrical as the personality disorder it’s partially titled after. Naufus Figueroa, Mariachi Histrionics (2006)

This one simulates fireworks with neon lights and sound effects. Pretty and non-flammable. Perfect for pyro-phobics. Hekla Dögg Jónsdóttir, Firework for L.A. (2005)

Fun art materials, heavy context. Ana Mendieta, Anima, Silueta de Cohetes (Anima, Silhouette of Fireworks) (1976)

An explosive, psychedelic interpretation of the Book of Genesis. And God said, BOOM! Fred Tomaselli, Untitled (Expulsion) (2000)

Yes, light painting with sparklers is on old trend, but Mina Mikhael‘s just fabulous. Nanananananananeon-BATMAN!

Photographer Caleb Charland masters the long exposure by painting a firework with a lit match. Crafty.

Ah, the days before point-and-shoot cameras and Flickr groups… An etching of the ‘Royal Fireworks’ display on the Thames, London, England in 1749.

Since a Jackass sequel was screened at the MoMA and the Dadaists would have loved these guys, it’s appropriate it pitch the whole endeavor as performance art… and this one is a classic. Please, don’t do homages to it this weekend.