Christo, the intimate and the monumental

Whilst the urban projects of Christo and Jeanne-Claude are on display at the ING Art Center in Brussels, BRAFA is displaying a piece from the mid-1960s, Three Store Fronts. We look back on the history of this installation and look forward to the birth of the Mastaba project coming soon to Abu Dhabi which will become the largest sculpture in the world.   Born in 1935 in Bulgaria, Christo Vladimiroff Javacheff, known as Christo, worked with his wife and collaborator Jeanne-Claude Guillebon Denat, from the end of the 1950s until her death in 2009. Together, they have created many large-scale, on-site installations such as the packaging of the Pont-Neuf in Paris and the Reichstag in Berlin, or more recently the installation of over 7,000 panels of saffron-coloured cloth in Central Park, New York and a floating bridge on Italy’s Lake Iseo. Supporting themselves financially through the sale of preparatory drawings, over the years their achievements led to obtaining permission to execute projects in various cities or regions, with an engineering team making them possible. Within a few years, Abu Dhabi is expected to host the largest sculpture ever orchestrated in the world. In the meantime, this year, BRAFA exhibits a historic piece from Christo, never seen before in Belgium.   At BRAFA you are exhibiting a piece of your work from the 1960s called Three Store Fronts from the series Show Windows and Show Cases. Why did you choose this piece for the fair? To look at its broader historical context, it’s a piece of work from the work I did in Paris. From 1962, I worked on the Show Windows and Show Cases series, which were display cases or old medicine cabinets- and then designed Three Store Fronts for my first personal exhibition, which took place in 1966...

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Prestigious guests at the Serpentine’s Miracle Marathon Weekend

The Serpentine Galleries in London have announced the programme of its Miracle Marathon Weekend on 8 and 9 October, dedicated to the theme of miracles and the sacred. Many participants will be joining in, among them artists Etel Adnan, Christo and Gustav Metzger, writers Marie NDiaye and Andrew O’Hagan, theorists Jacqueline Rose and Eyal Weizman, physicist Carlo Rovelli, with a presentation by Gilbert & George and Genesis P-Orridge.  The marathon is becoming a London festival in its own right because it will be held, for the first time since its 2006 birth, at the Serpentine Sackler Gallery and the Second Home, in the Spitalfields building by architect Selgas Cano. The event will also be diffused by a live radio broadcast from the...

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Christo project Over the River gets the green light

A judge in the federal courts has given the green light for a project by Christo and Jeanne-Claude which consists of stretching out more than nine kilometres of material over the Arkansas river in Colorado, between Cañon City and Salida. Although local activists opposed the project, the judge stated that local government officers were respecting environmental laws in allowing the project to go ahead. The community organisation Rags Over the Arkansas River (ROAR), began the trial against Christo in 2012, aiming to prevent the installation due to concerns that it would damage local wildlife, posing a threat to fish and sheep. Comprising nine kilometres of panels suspended in eight sections over a 65-kilometre-long section of the river, the installation will be ‘in situ’ for a period of two weeks in August. Christo and his late spouse and partner Jeanne-Claude conceived the piece in the 1990s and selected the Arkansas river after having explored 89 other potential sites in seven states. Christo has said that he expects the project to take three whole years to become a reality, meaning that it will be completed in 2018 at the earliest. He was pleased with the tribunal’s decision and stated: “The legal process of the piece is still unresolved, but today we have made a very important step in the completion of Over the River.” Although the decision may be against the wishes of ROAR, the group has declared themselves unwilling to abandon their fight. In many of their works, Christo uses canvas, cables and metallic structures to create temporary works which last on average two weeks. Their art consists of the ‘packaging’ of places, buildings, monuments, parks and landscapes. Some of their pioneering works come near Land Art in their size, or more generally, in their creation outside of traditional spaces such as...

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Christo, The Mastaba of Abu Dhabi (1981) UNSOLD Sotheby’s Paris

The work by Christo, The Mastaba of Abu Dhabi (Project for the United Arab Emirates) created in 1981 and lot 20 in Sotheby’s Paris’ Contemporary Art Evening Sale on 3 December, was estimated between €150,000 and €200,000. It was unsold. The piece is signed, titled and dated 1981, and has been authenticated by the artist himself. It is made from pastel, pencil, charcoal and wax on paper. The Mastaba of Abu Dhabi is a large scale project thought up by Christo and Jeanne-Claude in 1977, and is still in production. It is to be the largest sculpture in the world and the only permanent work of its size. It is to measure 150 metres tall and 225 metres wide. It will be made from 410,000 multicoloured oil drums which will form a mosaic of vivid colours reminiscent of Islamic architecture. The work put on sale by Sotheby’s Paris has at one time formed part of the following collections: galerie Daniel Varenne, Paris; Fondation Veranneman, Kruishouten; Galleria II Ponte, Florence before being acquired by its previous...

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Umbrellas not unlucky indoors for Christo

Christo’s The Umbrellas, joint project for Japan and USA (1990) is a particularly diverse mixed media work, comprising: pencil, charcoal, wax crayon, pastel, enamel paint, a fabric sample, topographic map and photograph by Wolfgang Volz. The piece sold €190,000 (without fees), €229,500 (with fees) going to the thirteenth bidder. Experts gave the piece a projected value between €130,000 and 180,000, with the artist himself having confirmed the piece’s authenticity. Presented at Sotheby’s evening sale by a private collector, the work has previously been presented at, Pascal de Sarthe Fine Art, Paradise Valley, and, prior to this was held in a private Japanese collection (1990), and the Yoichi Kawakita collection, also Japan. Christo was the collective name for Christo and Jeanne-Claude, the married couple – born on the same date – known for their outdoor works and large installations. From 1994, works by the artists were retrospectively credited to “Christo and Jeanne-Claude”. Notable projects include the wrapping of the Reichstag, Berlin, and the Pont-Neuf bridge,...

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