The Art of Fireworks

by Hrag Vartanian on July 4, 2011

Happy Fourth of July everyone!

When I think of this very America holiday, I think fireworks. So, I wanted to share some notable art works that incorporate fireworks in different ways and demonstrate that the love of beatiful lights is quite universal.

Hand colored etching of "A VIEW of the FIRE-WORKES and ILLUMINATIONS at his GRACE the Duke of RICHMOND'S at WHITEHALL and on the River Thames on Monday 15 May 1749." (1749) (via Wikipedia)

Giovanni Paolo Panini, "Preparation Of The Fireworks" (18th C.) (via

India, Rajasthan, Kishangarh, South Asia, "Krishna and Radha Enjoying a Feast and Fireworks" (early 19th century) (via

Henri Pierre Léon Pharamond Blanchard, "Fireworks /Feuerwerk" (1856)

Utagawa Hiroshige (Ando), "Fireworks at Ryogoku (Ryogoku Hanabi), No. 98" from One Hundred Famous Views of Edo (1858) (via

Unknown American Artist, "Fireworks Over Castel St. Angelo, Rome" (nd) (via

Winslow Homer, "Sailboat and Fourth of July Fireworks" (1880) (via

James Ensor, "Fireworks" (1887) (via

Félix Vallotton, "Fireworks" (1901) (via

David Bueno de Mesquita, "Vuurwerk op de Amstel - Fireworks over the river Amstel, on the occasion of the silver jubilee of Queen Wilhelmina" (1923) (via

Sam Francis, "Firework" (1963) (via

Cai Guo-Qiang's "Fireworks From Heaven" at the Charles J. Colton School during Prospect.1 in New Orleans, 2008.

Another project in lower Manhattan by Cai Guo-Qiang, "Transient Rainbow" (2002), was created for the opening of MoMA QNS. It featured a rainbow of fireworks. This was done again in 2009 above Tian'anmen Square and billed as the world's largest "firework paintings." (image via

Rosemarie Fiore's "Firework Drawing #7" (2009) (via

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  • Zaguar

    Check out Pierre le Hors’ amazing “Firework Studies” —
    Hassla books in NYC has published it
    Happy 4th!

    • Thanks, we posted it on Hyperallergic LABS:

  • Matthew Cummings

    I’m not much of a self promoter, but I’ve been working with the idea of images of celebration and disaster as open signifiers, including fireworks like this one.  Can also be seen here

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