When not drawing–and detonating–pictures made from gunpowder or staging massive outdoor “explosion events” like the fireworks at the opening and closing ceremonies of the 2008 Beijing Olympics, Cai Guo-Qiang is busy breaking records. His 14 gunpowder pieces sold at Christie’s in Hong Kong in 2007 for $9.5 million, an all-time auction high for contemporary Chinese art. He’s the first Chinese artist to snag a Venice Biennale award and the first living artist to have a solo show in a state-operated Chinese museum. The seven white sedans he suspended from the ceiling at the Guggenheim in New York last year left the art world chattering about American car culture. — by Kate Rockwood
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