Christo & Jeanne-Claude – Interview, Environmental Art, Gates

Large-scale public art installations are conceptually and aesthetically daunting to produce. However, that is the easy part when compared to the physical labor and the public lobby involved to obtain permits, privileges and community consent. Ask Christo ~ arguably the most visible and widely known public artist alive today.

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Project for the Gates, IV

The husband-and-wife collaborators and renowned environmental artists Christo and Jeanne-Claude have tackled monumental-size art installations in man-made and natural environments. And they have been for three decades. They know.

In Europe, Christo & Jeanne-Claude commanded fame, if not fortune, by fabric wrapping architectural landmarks in fabric,such as the Reichstag in Berlin, and the Pont Neuf in Paris. Besides grants, the preparatory drawings and associated materials and photo books produced by the artists usually fund future projects. The renderings by the artists of their installations are considered art objects in and by themselves.

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The Gates, Project for Central Park, …

Examples of their work in the US include the twenty-four-mile fence of nylon that lined through California’s Sonoma and Marin counties. And of course, the more recent Gates Project in Central Park in New York City. The Gates Project involved 7,500 gateways clad with saffron-colored synthetic fabric, covering twenty-three miles of park walkways.

In this interview Christo and Jeanne-Claude talk about about the Gates Project in particular, as well as about their artistic endeavors, and the challenges of living and working together in New York in general.

Free Video Interview with Christo & Jeanne-Claude on their Art

While monumental in scale and ambition, these projects undermine the notion of the solitary, heroic artistic genius; they are temporary, leaving no permanent mark on the sites, and their existence is owed to the collective efforts of hundreds of workers.

Christo and Jeanne-Claude typically engage in lengthy campaigns to persuade myriad public-interest groups, private landowners, and municipal and state authorities in order to win permission for their projects. This social process is central to their work; the pair proposes a fundamentally democratic vision of art, one that moves beyond the walls of the museum and into the space of the community to engage the widest possible audience.

Talking about the art of lobbying… one has to have a long term perspective. The Gates Project was originally conceived in 1979. Then, the installation was finally granted permission by the city in 2003. The completed installation was on view for sixteen days in February 2005.

Art Books

To learn more, here are some recommended books on Christo & Jeanne-Claude’s Gates Project, and on their international public art projects.

Christo and Jeanne-Claude: On the Way to The Gates, Central Park, New York City (Metropolitan Museum of Art Series)

Christo and Jeanne-Claude: Through the Gates and Beyond

Christo and Jeanne-Claude: International Projects

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