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A Monthly Culture Matrix For the Cosmopolitan Traveler

Sky Ladder: The Art of Cai Guo-Qiang

Streaming on Netflix / Art

The artist Cai Guo-Qiang grew up in Mao’s China amid the throes of the Cultural Revolution. His father, a traditional painter and calligraphy artist, was oppressed by the regime. Cai challenged it, eventually winning acclaim for his fireworks at the 2008 Beijing Olympics. To this day, Cai creates on a monumental scale, harnessing cutting-edge pyrotechnics to create transcendent site-specific works. Kevin MacDonald’s documentary—produced by Wendi Deng Murdoch—explores the artist’s life, starting with a project that was 20 years in the making: the 1,650-foot, skyward-reaching ladder called Sky Ladder (2015). The documentary lets Cai’s personality emerge alongside his stratospheric art. He is soft-spoken, immensely driven, and piercingly observant. —E.C.

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