Surrounded Islands in Biscayne Bay, ‘wrapped,’ 1983
Having in prior posts featured an introduction to three landscape artists beginning with Andres Amador, today I would like to focus on the earlier work by a couple who gained recognition through the unexpected character of their joint projects.
“Christo and Jeanne-Claude described the myriad elements that brought the projects to fruition as integral to the artwork itself, and said their projects contained no deeper meaning than their immediate aesthetic impact; their purpose being simply for joy, beauty, and new ways of seeing the familiar.” [Wikipedia]
I am grateful for Wikipedia’s succinct summary of Christo and Jeanne-Claude’s shared-aim for their joint work, and especially for that phrase, “their projects contained no deeper meaning than their immediate aesthetic impact…” Modern art in its many forms has been subject to much misunderstanding, as viewers have often looked within it for ‘meaning’ and ‘a higher purpose’ where none has been intended. I have previously featured the work of Alexander Calder and look forward to presenting the work of other 20th century (and later) artists, who have offered us the sheer beauty of non-representative paintings and sculptures.
Christo and Jeanne-Claude’s collaborative work has long struck me as epitomizing this approach to the exploration of beauty. They risked appearing to have trivialized their engagement with the natural world as well as with well-known works of architecture. But they also helped us see familiar and unfamiliar things in different ways, and with new appreciation.
Most significant was their consistent effort to make their projects not only self-funded, but as ecologically sensitive as possible, with their subsequent donation or recycled use of art installation materials. In my view, they did not seek to alter the landscapes or structures with which they worked in more than a very temporary way. And certainly not in any way that would compromise those beautiful places, but instead to enhance our regard for them.
I offer the photos below with appreciation for the simple joy that these prior installations may have brought to those who were able to be present at them, and for the beauty of the preserved digital images we still have of them. I wish I could have seen one myself, in context!
Valley Curtain, Colorado, 1972
Running Fence, Sonoma and Marin Counties, CA, reported as 24 miles long, 1976
Christo on Floating Piers, Lake Iseo, Italy, 2016, after Jeanne-Claude’s death in 2009
Hundreds if not thousands walked on the floating causeway to the island
Pont-Neuf bridge in Paris, ‘wrapped,’ 1985