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Thread: Christo: The Gates, Central Park

  1. #16


    Central Park pictures from 9 January 2005.

    Christo's Gates and Harlem Meer.

    Christo's Gates - near Conservatory Garden.

    Christo's Gates - near North Meadow.

    Christo's Gates, near the Pool.

    A young visitor to the park and Christo's Gates, Central Park.

  2. #17



    New York Art Project Made in Germany

    Ever since they shrouded Berlin's Reichstag, most Germans know artist duo Christo and Jeanne-Claude. Germany plays a role in their latest work in New York too, this time weaving and stitching their trademark fabric.

    A decade ago, Christo and Jeanne-Claude created a sensation when they swaddled the German Reichstag or parliament building in shimmering silver fabric for two weeks in a statement of Berlin's Cold War east-west political divide.

    As the artist duo prepare for their latest art installation in New York -- setting up 7,500 gates hung with panels of saffron-colored fabric in Central Park -- Germany is once again involved. Few know that much of the handiwork for "The Gates," as the New York art installation is called, was done across the Atlantic in small workshops in sleepy German towns.

    And, as if in a continuing vein of the artists' Reichstag project, Germany's once divided halves are in it together: a manufacturing company in Taucha near Leipzig in eastern Germany and a weaving mill in the town of Emsdette, near Münster in western Germany, have labored separately to ensure that "The Gates" opens as scheduled on Feb. 12.

    Both companies have worked for the Bulgarian-born Christo and his French wife and co-artist Jeanne-Claude before. There's little doubt that the high-profile New York project is a further feather in their cap.

    Klaus Schirmer, head of production at the Schilden company, which wove the sturdy sheets of polyamide imprinted with an intricate honeycomb design in saffron yellow for "The Gates," said it wasn't a routine commission.

    "It is definitely special. It's probably not everyday that one can associate art with a technical weaving mill. Thus this whole Christo thing is really special and of course very, very important to us," Schirmer told Deutsche Welle during the manufacturing stage last year.

    Christo reportedly paid the weaving mill around €400,000 ($524,000) for 100,000 square meters of polyamide textile, the normal price according to the company.

    For the tiny sewing workshop in Taucha, which belonged to the Communist East German government and has now been bought over by the Swiss Bieri Group, the Christo commission brought welcome relief to its workers.

    "It's a nice change," Susann Reihe, who has been stitching together the fabric panels for Christo and Jeanne-Claude's New York artwork for the past year in Taucha, told German broadcaster WDR. "We normally do protective weather-proof covers for cars, party-tents and the like, that demands a whole lot of painstaking work," Reihe said. "This is really lovely in contrast."

    Christo's project manager Wolfgang Volz said that the Taucha-based Bieri Zeltaplan company had already proven its skills and quality during the Reichstag wrapping project.

    "At the time we had a really good experience with them," Volz told WDR. "That's why we approached them again."

    Roland Eilenberger, head of Bieri Zeltaplan is clear that the commission has also brought the company much prestige in their line of work.

    "Naturally, you can't market such a project in the same way that you would perhaps bring out a luxurious product on the market," Eilenberger said. "But, overall, in the textile industry it's pretty unique to able to work and complete such a mammoth project."

    The company shipped off the last of the fabric panels to New York last November.

    "The Gates" is just the latest in a string of gigantic public art pieces that the conceptual artists are known for, most of which have involved wrapping swathes of fabric around massive objects.

    Among their more memorable projects, was a hanging of a curtain between two peaks in a Colorado valley, wrapping the Pont Neuf in Paris, embellishing several islands off Florida with tutus, the wrapping of the Reichstag and opening 3,100 umbrellas in Japan and California.

    "The Gates," which like most of the artist duo's works is monumental but temporary, will consist of five-meter-high gates placed at intervals of about 3.5 meters along 37 kilometers of footpaths throughout New York's Central Park. The saffron-colored fabric panels will be suspended from each gate, falling to two meters above the ground.

    The installation is designed to pay tribute to the park's half-planned topography as well as to evoke the structure of the surrounding city blocks.

    As with most of Christo and Jeanne-Claude's projects, the fabric is central to the installation. This time the saffron color is meant to symbolize a park in full bloom.

    Author DW staff (sp) © Deutsche Welle

  3. #18


    January 12, 2005


    Handling the Nuts and Bolts of Colossal Art


    "The challenge to me is, how do you build it so that they aesthetically like it?" said Vince Davenport.

    VINCE DAVENPORT, the obsessively innovative engineer of "The Gates," the $20 million outdoor art extravaganza designed for Central Park by the conceptual artists Christo and Jeanne-Claude, is a bundle of nerves inside his puffy black goose-down vest. Shy? Not at all. Anxious to get back to work? Absolutely. His adrenaline is pumping full throttle as he fidgets in a chair in the deserted banquet room of the Boathouse restaurant.

    Feb. 12-27 is show time, and that makes January crunchtime. His wife, Jonita, an efficiency expert who juggles the project's myriad administrative details from an inelegant white trailer parked beside the restaurant, won't let him forget it. She also, he adds drolly, complains that whenever he gets going full-tilt on a Christo project, their love life takes a back seat to his work. "My mind just goes out in left field and stays there." He fantasizes about nuts, bolts and PVC tubing, dreams of 5,000 tons of steel leveling plates. In the early stages of the design process, he exhibits the traits of a mad scientist, routinely leaping out of bed in the middle of the night to rush out to his workshop and jot down a theory.

    Fortunately for the Davenports' marriage, Christo's installations are temporary propositions. And fortunately for Mr. Davenport, Christo is enough of "a frustrated engineer himself" that he doesn't conjure up the impossible: he settles for the grandiose and unprecedented.

    "For me, the biggest challenge of working with Christo and Jeanne-Claude is that you're designing something that's never been done before and will never be done again. Every project is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. But it takes a person like myself who thrives on solving problems."

    Turning the vision of a pair of visionaries into a 23-mile marathon trail incorporating a million square feet of golden fabric that billows from 7,500 custom-made gates held together by 165,000 bolts is, he says, "a logistical nightmare."

    "I'm not an artist, and I never envision what Christo and Jeanne-Claude see as far as the beauty of the thing goes," says Mr. Davenport, a compact man with a freckled, weather-beaten forehead. "I'm too concerned with making it come to life. The challenge to me is, how do you build it so that they aesthetically like it? Where do I get the parts? How do I manufacture it?"

    But it is art, after all, with every detail meticulously documented by his history-conscious employer, who conceived the idea of adorning the park with gates in 1979 and was rejected by the city in 1981. The responsibility to do this right is all-consuming.

    But that's what makes it irresistible. The perfect project, actually, for a fellow so hyperactive that, back in kindergarten in Kansas City, Mo., his teacher used to tie him to his chair with a towel, a tactic that prompted, he says wryly, laughter rather than censure from his parents. The oldest of eight children, Mr. Davenport, 68, inherited his technical wizardry from his father, a farmer and roofer with an eighth-grade education but a sophisticated grasp of mechanics and engineering. He could fix or build anything.

    So can Mr. Davenport. He holds no engineering degrees but has been fixated on building since he received his first Erector set. His workshop at home in Leavenworth, Wash., where he passes his downtime building the occasional condominium or pizza parlor, is three times the size of his house.

    CHRISTO came calling in 1989, in search of a contractor to puzzle out the best way to install 1,760 yellow umbrellas in the mountains just off Interstate 5 north of Los Angeles. Mr. Davenport, by then semiretired from a lucrative career as a general contractor in Southern California, took the job for the wackiness of the challenge - not as an art lover. The challenge proved addictive, and he has been with Christo and his spouse, Jeanne-Claude, ever since, first as a consultant for "Wrapped Reichstag" in Berlin (10 miles of blue rope was used to wrap the building in silver fabric), next as the design engineer in 1996 for the as-yet-unrealized "Over the River" installation on 40 miles of the Arkansas River in Colorado.

    But "The Gates" sets the bar for difficulty, and Mr. Davenport originally backed away from it because the first plans called for drilling 15,000 holes in the park to anchor the gates.

    "I said: 'Christo, this park is the eighth wonder of the world. No way in hell can we drill 15,000 holes in it. They'll laugh us out of town.' " So Christo reapplied to the parks department and the Central Park Conservancy in 2002 with a no-holes plan. It was accepted. Mr. Davenport had three months to invent a working prototype.

    The blue eyes behind his bifocals are bloodshot. He has lost 15 pounds the wrong way - via stress - and he swears his hair, of which there admittedly isn't much, was a darker hue of gray when he started this project three years ago. Does it strike him as a tad insane to devote three years to a colossal installation with a two-week lifespan? He shrugs. That's the Christo mystique. Perishable art.

    "I'll look at it when we're done and say, 'Yes, I guess it is beautiful,' " he says, "but the truth is, the day this is up and running, in Christo's mind, he's already onto the next project." He shakes his head and heads outside to count his gates. Again.

    Copyright 2005 The New York Times Company

  4. #19


    New York Daily News -

    Open shutter on 'Gates'

    Monday, January 17th, 2005

    It took 26 years for landscape artist Christo and his wife, Jeanne-Claude, to get permission to erect their "Gates" project in Central Park.

    Legendary documentary film maker Albert Maysles caught the process on tape.

    About 100 hours of it, anyway.

    And although Christo's 7,500 tubular gates with saffron-colored fabric panels will decorate 23 miles of pathways in the park for a mere 15 days, Feb. 12-27, Maysles, 71, and directing partner Antonio Ferrera, 28, promise a film for the ages.

    They also pledge to make a distinctly New York film, starring Central Park and what Maysles calls "the collage" of people around it.

    "Central Park is sort of this egalitarian place, this Arcadia, where all of New York comes together to play and do their thing," Ferrera said. "'The Gates'" sort of underlines that."

    Maysles and his late brother, David, used hand-held cameras and sound equipment to revolutionize documentaries with films like "The Beatles: First U.S. Visit" and "Gimme Shelter," their 1974 film about the Rolling Stones tour that culminates in the disastrous California concert at Altamont.

    The brothers caught on film a Hells Angels member, hired to provide security, killing a fan who tried to rush the stage. Maysles has one of the cameras used at Altamont in his home at the Dakota on Central Park West.

    Maysles and the Christos have a long history together - "The Gates" will be the sixth documentary Maysles has done with them since he and his brother met the pair in Paris in 1962.

    The collaboration has worked because their methods are the same, a sort of Zen acceptance that whatever happens, happens and becomes a part of the artistic process.

    "In a good documentary, you never know what will happen next. Half or more of the Christos' projects is the unknown reaction to it," Maysles said. "They don't know what the weather is going to be. That's okay. Maybe it will snow. Maybe a rainbow crosses the park at that time. So much the better."

    The city's reluctance to approve the "Gates" project added a bit of cinéma vérité to the film. Because they have film spanning each of the Christos' requests and city rejections since the artists' first attempt in 1979, the audience gets to watch various officials, and the Christos, age on film.

    "So the viewer gets to watch these evolutions of the project and the people involved," Ferrara said. "People go from being young people in the '70s to who they are today. One guy who was against it has hair in the '70s. Now he's bald."

    "So many people think of interviews in documentaries, but what is important is that person you are filming experiencing something," Maysles said. "You are experiencing things those people experience."

    The Christos modified their proposal over the years to win city approval. For instance, they abandoned the idea of drilling holes to anchor each gate in the pathway and instead constructed portable stands for each.

    And the couple's success over the years with their massive works - they covered the Reichstag in Germany in silver fabric and strung yellow umbrellas across the California countryside, for example - made the Central Park project more palatable to local officials.

    Maysles said he is also proud that this is a film without a point.

    "At our best, we are making a film that has no particular purpose," he said. "You talk to the Christos, they say there is no purpose to their art, just a thing of beauty to be enjoyed. So is this film. When you think about it, Shakespeare, what is the purpose?"

    The documentary crew spends hours a day filming all aspects of "The Gates" assembly and construction. The filmmakers expect to winnow the estimated 100 hours of videotape to a 90-minute film.

    Then there is the money.

    Unlike the Christos, who pay for all of their projects by selling the equivalent of storyboard sketches of each - Maysles has two of them - the filmmaker is still raising the estimated $80,000 he will need to complete the documentary.

  5. #20


    Press Release Source: New York Magazine

    Christo & Jeanne-Claude, creators of The Gates in Central Park, to Sign Copies of New York Magazine on Tuesday, February 15th
    Thursday January 20, 10:30 am ET
    Artists to Autograph Limited-Edition Artwork in the Issue on Stands Now

    NEW YORK, Jan. 20 /PRNewswire/ -- Christo and Jeanne-Claude will be signing copies of New York Magazine, which includes a drawing of The Gates, on Tuesday, February 15, 2005 from 4 to 6:30 PM at the Central Park Boathouse. In the issue on stands now through January 30, 2005, New York Magazine has commemorated the incredible spectacle of 7,500 colorful 'gates' along 23 miles of pedestrian walkway with an drawing created by Christo especially for the magazine. The Gates in Central Park, 26 years in the making, will be installed in Central Park February 12 - 27. Buy your copy of New York Magazine (cover title, "You'll Never Have Stress in this Town Again") now to commemorate this once-in-a-lifetime event.

  6. #21

  7. #22


    February 5, 2005

    Art Project Pilgrims Prepare to Install 'The Gates'


    ne by one, they emerged from the Bliss Street subway station in Sunnyside, Queens, on Thursday afternoon, nervously eyeing the idling yellow school buses that were waiting to ferry them to an assembly plant. Mutual strangers, they were a blend of New Yorkers - a retired math teacher, a medical litigator, a street artist, a fitness instructor - and out-of-towners, like an architect from Denver and a college student from Virginia.

    These 100 worshipful pilgrims are among 600 or so paid volunteers who will put their lives on hold for six straight days to help install "The Gates," a giant $20 million project by the artists Christo and Jeanne-Claude that opens in Central Park next Saturday. The workers' task, starting Monday, is to assemble 7,500 gates festooned with saffron-colored fabric panels along 23 miles of the park's pedestrian walkways, from 59th Street to 110th Street, east to west.

    Once the workers had assembled inside the cavernous factory, on a side street near Fresh Pond Road in Maspeth, Jeanne-Claude and Christo, in jeans and sneakers, appeared briefly to greet them and to remind them to be on their best behavior in Central Park. "You are our ambassadors," said Jeanne-Claude, whose signature flame-orange hair could almost be viewed as a live advertisement for the project.

    "One question you will be asked: 'What is it for?' " she said. "It's for nothing. It's only a work of art. Nothing more." Then she and Christo were off in a twinkle, dashing to Manhattan to get back to work.

    Some of the enlisted workers signed up for the project years ago by e-mail. Preference was given to New York-area residents and to people who had worked on previous projects by Christo, like wrapping the Reichstag in Berlin with a million square feet of fabric or placing 1,760 yellow umbrellas in the foothills about 60 miles north of Los Angeles.

    The pay is minimum wage, but no one seemed to mind. "If you've ever done it before, you'll want to do it again," said William McMullen, the architect from Denver, who worked on the umbrellas project in 1991. "It was a blast."

    As an architect, he said, he is especially intrigued by the construction of the gates. Like a giant erector set, each is composed of a pair of orange 16-foot-tall vertical vinyl poles topped by a horizontal pole rigged with a pleated orange fabric panel. (During the installation next week, the gates' fabric will remain within a tubelike cocoon.) Each pole is attached to a steel base - weighing anywhere from 615 to 837 pounds, depending on the width of the gate - that rests on the surface of the walkways. The upper corners where the poles meet are fitted with recyclable cast aluminum reinforcements.

    The gates were designed so that with careful instruction and a bit of muscle, unskilled workers could put them together.

    The volunteers were divided into three groups for the training session. One team watched slides of previous Christo projects while waiting to receive special ID cards.

    A second group learned how to attach a leveling plate - a steel plate on which the vertical poles will be placed - securely to a steel base. At first, it seemed a little tricky: the worker starts by removing two orange safety cones fitted into either side of each base. Then the leveling plate must be attached to the base itself on a perfectly horizontal plane - not at an incline - so the vertical poles stay properly in place.

    Assisting Vince Davenport, the project's chief engineer and construction director, and his wife, Jonita, the project coordinator, were 10 skilled workers who will be a part of a larger team supervising in the park. Most are experienced stagehands or producers who have worked on movie crews or have been studio managers for artists; others are professional organizers who have previously set up events like rock concerts in Central Park.

    The third team was taken to a courtyard behind the plant where three sets of gates were lying on the ground, ready to be assembled. Dividing that team into groups of six, the skilled workers assigned two people to hold the bottom of each pole; two people to insert the horizontal poles into the vertical ones; and two people to align the aluminum corners that will ensure that the vertical poles stay in place when the gates are hoisted into place.

    This was the first of three training days (two sessions per day) led by the skilled workers. "I'm in Central Park every day with clients," said Megan Banwart, a fitness instructor who attended the Thursday afternoon session. "So how could I not get involved in a project like this?"

    None of the volunteers know exactly where they will be asked to work on Monday. On one wall of the plant is a giant map of Central Park that Mr. Davenport has divided into seven areas. Each area is divided into 21 zones, and each zone into 73 sections. "It's a logistic way of providing supervision for the entire project," Mr. Davenport explained. "There are seven area leaders, these are the most experienced people, then a zone supervisor, crew captains and team leaders."

    Safety is a crucial issue for Christo and Jeanne-Claude, who have occasionally met with setbacks. Two deaths resulted from "The Umbrellas, Japan-U.S.A.," in which a forest of umbrellas were planted near Tokyo and along the hillsides of Southern California in 1991. During the dismantling of the umbrellas in Japan, a man died when the arms of the crane he was operating touched a power line. In California, high winds blew an umbrella across a road and crushed a woman against a boulder.

    The Davenports have drafted a schedule to ensure that no workers will be rushing through their tasks. Mr. Davenport estimates that the 600 workers will be able to install about 22 gates a day, just enough to keep them busy and complete the job at an even pace.

    The workday runs from 7:30 to 4:30, weather permitting. (The recent snowstorm cost the project $250,000, Mr. Davenport noted: he had to buy snow blowers and other equipment, and it took six days and 150 people to clear snow from the steel bases.) Toward the end of the training session, all 100 trainees were asked to gather around a sample gate for the final - and most dramatic - demonstration: the unfurling of the fabric, which will take place in the park from 8 a.m. to 9 a.m. next Saturday. Raising a long pole with a hook, one of the trained workers detached a small loop at one end of the tubelike cocoon. As the tube dropped to the ground, the orange pleated fabric fell gracefully between the vinyl poles.

    There was a dead silence and a few teary faces, then an enthusiastic round of applause.

    Copyright 2005 The New York Times Company

  8. #23

    Default Amazing Artists, Amazing Projects

    Nearly 30 years ago I had the privilege of working on Running Fence in Sonoma County. I participated in putting the fence up, taking it down and driving to Colorado with the construction crew to return vehicles. It was an amazing event in which to participate.

    For the crew on this project, I'm sad I can't be there to do it again - have a fantastic time.

  9. #24


    The first gates are installed near the Merchant's Gate at Columbus Circle. 7 February 2005.

  10. #25

  11. #26


    The installation of Christo Gates continues. Central Park near East 72nd Street. 8 February 2005.

  12. #27


    February 8, 2005

    A Filmmaker's 50 Years of Reassuring Intimacy


    Albert Maysles, in his 50th year as a filmmaker, in Central Park.

    Some of Christo's gates, the subject of Albert Maysles's documentary.

    he scene left a lot to the imagination. On a sun-drenched day last week in Central Park, the only evidence of "The Gates," New York City's biggest public art project ever, was several thousand dark steel bases poking through a layer of snow.

    But for the 78-year-old filmmaker Albert Maysles, whose mission it has been to record a quarter-century of work on the project by the artists Christo and Jeanne-Claude, the site had potential. The saffron-colored panels that will billow across 23 miles of park footpaths will not be unfurled until Saturday, but 11 days in advance, Mr. Maysles knew that people would already be talking about it.

    "I'd like to find a group already involved in a discussion about the work," he said, alighting from a golf cart at the Great Lawn.

    A barely perceptible frown clouded the white-haired filmmaker's face, framed by black spectacles. Except for a few pedestrians wandering by, nothing much was happening.

    Finally, camera in hand, he approached a tattooed woman who was sitting on a bench in a spaghetti-strapped camisole and trousers, her two white dogs the only apparent source of warmth.

    "Let me feel you," he said after a few minutes of casual conversation, placing his hand on her bare shoulder. "My God, it's warm." He turned to Antonio Ferrera, his co-filmmaker, and motioned him over. "Feel her shoulder," he said. "Do you believe it?" Mr. Ferrera reached out and touched her.

    It was the Maysles technique - intimate to the point of being unnerving yet somehow, reassuringly safe. Touched by strange men in the middle of Central Park, the woman did not flinch.

    And so began the first of Mr. Maysles's explorations that afternoon as he and Mr. Ferrera sidled up to bench-sitters, waved at passers-by, basked in recognition and filmed - or not, depending on their subjects' willingness - reactions to The Gates, a project that just about everyone seemed to have an opinion about, once Mr. Maysles had coaxed them into revealing it.

    A chat with a transplanted Russian couple veered from Mr. Maysles's visit to Russia in 1955, when as a psychology teacher from Boston University he cajoled his way into psychiatric hospitals and recorded what was to become his first film, to the eccentricities of the pianist Vladimir Horowitz, the subject of another of his documentaries, to the Russian man's own work as an artist in Central Park upon his arrival in this country in 1979.

    "Christo and I are alike," said the man, Eric Freyman. "We both relied on the park to survive."

    A woman who described herself as "a product of Germany after World War II" and refused to be filmed, was less enthusiastic about the project. "Nature does not need adornment," she said, her brow crinkling.

    Mr. Maysles sat down, turned off his camera and began to talk. Soon, the conversation moved to Prague, where, the woman said, her Jewish mother had been forced to work in a church during the war.

    "My family name is well known there, but spelled differently," he said: "Maisels." "Ah, yes, you are Albert Maysles," she replied, her face brightening. "Gimme Shelter." "Salesman." "Grey Gardens." She knew his documentaries well.

    They talked a bit longer - about her former career as a language teacher, about his continuing one.

    "Well, I still can't say that I approve of this," she said, finally, gesturing to the base that she was using as a footrest. "But you've convinced me to keep an open mind."

    Mr. Maysles picked up his camera and walked on.

    "You know, one experience leads to another," he said, inching closer to his listener until their noses were almost touching. "In the end, 'The Gates' become connectors between lives."

    Mr. Maysles is well practiced in finding the connections between the environmental art visualized by Christo and Jeanne-Claude and the people who experience it.

    "The Gates," his sixth project with the couple, is to be shown on HBO in the fall. Tomorrow, the Museum of Modern Art will begin screenings of "Christo and Jeanne-Claude: Projects Recorded, 1969-1998," which includes Mr. Maysles's films of the previous five collaborations.

    Mr. Maysles met Christo and Jeanne-Claude through a friend in Paris in 1960, and they became like family, Jeanne-Claude said, when the Christos moved to New York in 1964. With his brother and co-filmmaker, David, Mr. Maysles followed the couple as they strung a rippled sheet of orange fabric between mountains in "Christo's Valley Curtain" (1974), stretched an 18-foot wall of white across Northern California in "Running Fence" (1978), skirted Biscayne Bay islands in flamingo pink in "Islands" (1986) and wrapped the Pont Neuf in gold in "Christo in Paris" (1990). He completed "Umbrellas" (1995), about the simultaneous opening of 3,100 umbrellas in California and Japan, without David, who died in 1987.

    For now, all that exists of "The Gates" documentary is a five-minute trailer and a mass of film taken across more than two decades - and left to editors in Mr. Maysles's studio on West 54th Street to make sense of.

    "It's a talent I don't have," he said of the editing, noting that a late-in-life diagnosis of attention deficit disorder had helped him better understand what he had always viewed as his weaknesses. "I haven't the eye."

    But that disability has helped to nurture some strengths.

    "I am a very, very good listener," he said. "My innate difficulty with concentration forced me to be."

    A pioneer in direct cinema, the American version of French cinéma vérité, Mr. Maysles is an old-school documentarian, preferring to remain out of frame and let life speak for itself.

    "When you ask a question," he said, "you already know what the answer will be."

    And so he has sought out what he doesn't already know.

    It was Mr. Maysles's team who filmed a man being stabbed to death during a Rolling Stones concert at Altamont in the 1970 film "Gimme Shelter," Mr. Maysles who ferreted out the aspirations and disappointments of a reclusive mother and daughter in their decaying house in East Hampton, on Long Island, in "Grey Gardens" (1976). And it is Mr. Maysles whom the Christos have allowed to accompany them from intimacy to intimacy for more than three decades, from Christo's freak-out session as he watched their Colorado curtain become snagged during its unfurling in 1972 to Jeanne-Claude's singing "Oh, What a Beautiful Day," a bit off-key, in the back of a taxi cab in 2003.

    "We used to tease David and Al when we were younger because once I remember they said, they want to be with us all the time, everywhere," Jeanne-Claude said in a telephone interview from her downtown loft last week. "But they have not yet caught us brushing our teeth."

    "It's not only about the films of Christo," she continued. "You will see that in all of their film, David and Albert, always, they just can't help it - no matter what is happening, they cannot help but throw in a little a bit of tenderness."

    David was mostly the sound, she recalled, and Albert the cameraman. David's role on "The Gates" has fallen to Mr. Ferrera, a 35-year-old writer and filmmaker with a fondness for quoting Thomas Hardy whose romantic vision seems to mesh with Mr. Maysles's own.

    For "The Gates," the men have been camped out "like nomads," Mr. Ferrera said, coming and going until late into the night from their trailer next to the Central Park Boathouse, just across the park from Mr. Maysles's apartment in the Dakota.

    Inside, young assistants tap away on laptops and answer phones, maintaining filming and interview schedules, keeping Mr. Maysles sated with miniature chocolate bars and, given that it is in 50th year in filmmaking, monitoring the recent run on lifetime achievement awards.

    Mr. Ferrera, who met Mr. Maysles by timidly approaching him at a Film Forum screening, has worked with him since 1999.

    "The greatest thing I've learned from Al is the way that compassion and openness are the only true things that will allow you to find the fullness in that which is before you," he said.

    "Al does that with his camera. He's like a heat-seeking missile. It's not about shots or any of that stuff. It's about discovering what happens in life through the lens."

    Copyright 2005 The New York Times Company

  13. #28
    Senior Member
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    Oct 2003
    The Catskills


    Newsday: February 8, 2005

    'The Gates' shall be unfurled
    Artists Christo and Jeanne-Claude see their fleeting installation finally come to fruition


    Why would any artist devote decades of planning and millions of dollars to create a new project with the intention of destroying it a few weeks later?

    Christo and Jeanne-Claude, who long ago became famous for draping fabric across buildings, canyons and entire counties, first proposed festooning Central Park in 1979. Three mayors and countless hearings later, the couple has spent $21 million on "The Gates," a 23-mile procession of billowing, saffron-colored curtains that will be unfurled Saturday and dismantled on Feb. 28.

    Why it's transitory

    "One of our workers on the night shift asked me why is it temporary," Jeanne-Claude says. "I told him to think of the rainbow. And he grabbed my arm and says, 'I think I got it: If the gates were there all the time, after a while nobody would be looking at them and the magic would be gone.' And I said, 'You've got it better than most art historians.'"

    Precisely because it is such a colossal undertaking, the transience of "The Gates" is central to the project's meaning. Ours is an era of great migrations, in which whole populations live with the feeling that shelter is fragile and landscape can be suddenly reshaped. The artists themselves are transplants to New York - he from Bulgaria, she from France - and their work reflects the sense of impermanence.

    "Nomads one day arrive and they unfold their fabric tent and they build an entire town, and weeks later they fold up their tents and they are gone, and this nomadic quality is reflected in the fabric," says Jeanne-Claude. Then, as if to offer assurance that "The Gates" will be no didactic enterprise but a thing of visceral beauty, she segues into a different metaphor. "Fabric is also sensual, like a second skin," she says. "It moves in the wind. It is alive."

    The installation has an economic life, too. It has generated more than 1,000 temporary jobs. It will probably lure hundreds of thousands of tourists who will buy meals and Broadway tickets. Sales of related posters and merchandise will benefit the nonprofit organizations Nurture New York's Nature and the Central Park Conservancy.

    But nobody gets rich: The artists sell preparatory sketches, as well as works they have been hoarding for decades, and that revenue covers the expenses of this extravaganza or gets plowed into the next, a project over the Arkansas River in Colorado. If the weather or some other glitch drives up the cost by $1 million or $2 million of the artists' own money, then so be it.

    "Each work is like a child of ours," Jeanne-Claude shrugs. "A father and a mother do not have a budget for a child."

    Speaking as one

    In the months leading up to opening day, the gangly Christo has been cloistered in the studio above the couple's SoHo loft, churning out the drawings and collages that will be the only permanent trace of "The Gates" once the vinyl poles and the nylon material have been recycled. He sleeps just a few hours a night, eats hurried meals of raw garlic with yogurt, and gives no interviews.

    His partner waves all such requests away, explaining that they have fused into a single entity: Christo and Jeanne-Claude. "I live with him for 47 years, and I know exactly what he would have said. We do everything together - except we don't fly together, I do not draw and Christo never works with our accountant."

    Like most of the pair's other projects - wrapping the Reichstag in Berlin and the Pont Neuf in Paris, spanning a valley in Colorado, stretching a cloth fence across Sonoma and Marin counties in northern California, dotting whole landscapes with thousands of bright umbrellas - "The Gates" had to overcome a mountain range of logistical barriers. The city equivocated and objected until their fan Michael Bloomberg became mayor. Then it was just a matter of turning 5,290 tons of steel into 15,000 supports capable of withstanding February bluster, without damaging the Central Park turf or pathways.

    The obstacles and the expense, while central to the process, have tended to arouse hostility, which usually takes the form of accusations that the artists are wasteful publicity-seekers. Christo and Jeanne-Claude both deny and embrace those criticisms.

    "If the project was a movie set for Hollywood ... there would be no opposition," Christo told the art historian Jonathan Fineberg, discussing a work that involved encircling 11 Miami islets in floating fabric. "The great power of the project is that it's absolutely irrational, and that disturbs, angers the sound human perception of a capitalist society. That is also a part of the project ... to put in doubt all the values of everything."

    Will it work in New York?

    According to John Elderfield, chief curator at the Museum of Modern Art, such large, theatrical and subversive work belongs in a tradition of the politically charged avant-garde of the Russian Revolution. It's hard to know how well that social critique will translate to New York City. "Public art thrives best in periods where there are widely understood communal beliefs," Elderfield says. "How can this work in a city where nobody agrees about anything? Therefore, there's something wonderfully ingenuous about the wish to do it."

    Fomenting doubt about social conventions is not the same as spreading confusion, however. Perhaps because they have mystified so many people over the course of their joint career, Christo and Jeanne-Claude insist on fact-checking every article about themselves (including this one). Their Web site (www.christojeanneclaude .net) features a list of common journalistic errors, such as the recommendation: "See the artwork best by flying." The written retort resonates with Jeanne-Claude's Gallic scorn: "No! None of their work is designed for the birds, all have a scale to be enjoyed by human beings who are on the ground."

    Nothing annoys them more than to be described as "wrap artists," since they also put fabric to many other uses. "When people think that we wrap everything, it means that they don't have eyes," Jeanne-Claude sputters. "It's close to cretinism."

    As for the charge that they are merely chasing fame, Jeanne-Claude's answer is that their desire for recognition is profoundly human and inseparable from their desire to be good at their job. "If someone is the best garbage collector in town, he is proud of being known as the best garbage collector," she says. "Or butcher or baker."

    Copyright © 2005, Newsday, Inc.

    Video: The making of 'Gates' ( Feb 1, 2005

  14. #29


    February 9, 2005

    Barbarians (Well, Mostly Art Lovers) at 'The Gates'


    Iris Sandkuhler, an artist and volunteer, helping to raise "The Gates."

    Caryl and Harold Unger in their Miami Beach yard with their Christo and Jeanne-Claude collectibles, including a raft used to wrap islands.

    n 1991 David Yust clocked 22 hours staring at a forest of yellow umbrellas in a valley north of Los Angeles. He spent 13 days in Berlin in 1995 marveling at the aluminum-surfaced fabric that draped the Reichstag, once rising at 2 a.m. for a reverential photo session of the sun rising over the enfolded neo-Renaissance landmark. And next week he plans to photograph a saffron-cloaked Central Park at dawn.

    Mr. Yust, 65, is part of a far-flung group of followers of the artists Christo and Jeanne-Claude, whose latest public art project, "The Gates," is scheduled to open along 23 miles of the park's pedestrian walkways on Saturday. These loyal fans plot distant vacations, organize group trips and sometimes abandon jobs to bear witness to the artists' installations.

    They are like the fans that long traipsed after the Grateful Dead, but with far fewer tour dates. They share the passion of people who collect milk glass, Manolo Blahniks or rare teapots, although their holdings are limited to books, pieces of fabric or, in the case of Caryl Unger, a shovel that was used to install "Surrounded Islands" in Biscayne Bay, off Miami.

    Groupies? Gate-heads? They resist monikers. But their ardor for the Christo and Jeanne-Claude happenings is passionate.

    Mr. Yust, an art professor at Colorado State University in Fort Collins, said he was first bitten by the Christo bug in 1983, when he signed on to work on "Surrounded Islands," in which 11 Florida islands were encircled by pink floating fabric, after hearing the artists speak at the university. Since then he has tried to see as many of the installations as he can.

    "I thought about that project every day for the next two years," said Mr. Yust, who, like many of those who travel the country or world to see the team's work, is an artist himself. "I thought he was a big nut at that time. And I still think he is a big nut. But I am totally supportive of what he and Jeanne-Claude do. I feel they are among the last of the true idealists on the planet."

    From art collectors to museum groups, tourists to paid Christo volunteers, the city expects 200,000 to flock to the city for the installation, which will remain through Feb. 27. Such figures, of course, are mere guesses for now. But there does seem to be universal agreement that in a traditionally slow tourism period, New York will draw record numbers of visitors, thanks to "The Gates."

    Hotels that are usually half full or worse this time of year are reporting strong bookings, especially at establishments that line the park's perimeter. For the coming weekend, the Carlyle Hotel is 75 percent booked, a 30 percent increase over last year, said James McBride, the hotel's managing director. The hotel is offering a "Gates" package, which includes a park-view suite with catering for two hours for 25 people, at $6,000. "We booked one of them already," Mr. McBride said.

    The Mark is sold out this weekend; last February, only half of the 176 rooms were booked, managers there said.

    The artists estimate that thousands of people around the globe make a point of traveling to see their work, often signing on to help install the pieces. Smaller Christo communities hammer beams, tread water, twist fabric, answer phones or perform myriad other tasks to help bring a work together. There is even a blog on which visitors can record their reactions:

    Those fans, as well as thousands of other visitors who are landing in New York over the next several days to behold the ornamented park, are expected to lift the city's tourism economy, usually lackluster this time of year.

    "You don't go running up to New York in the middle of February from Miami," said Mrs. Unger, who is flying in on Thursday from Miami to see the installation. "But when I heard it was going to be in New York, I said to my husband, 'Please, let's go.' "

    New York merchants, of course, hope the experience will be as remunerative as it is enriching. The Mandarin Oriental will offer a package including binoculars in each of its Central Park View rooms, as well as breakfast at Asiate and a Metropolitan Museum of Art book on the project, starting at $1,050 a night. La Prima Donna Restaurant will serve sautéed Prince Edward Island mussels, in a saffron cream sauce. You get the idea.

    For the record, the artists do not earn income from the detritus left behind once a project is over. "The Gates" will be industrially recycled, and proceeds from the sale of "Gates" sweatshirts and other souvenirs will be donated to Nurture New York's Nature and the Central Park Conservancy. The project, which will cost more than $20 million to install, will be paid for by the artists.

    Organized groups are coming from Japan, Germany and many American cities to see the work, a great many of them made up of artists or art collectors.

    Ruth Halperin, chairwoman of Contemporary Collectors Circle of the Cantor Arts Center at Stanford University, will fly in with 25 museum members on her fourth Christo trip.

    "We went to Fresno to see the umbrellas," said Ms. Halperin, who is 77. "We went to Paris, and we saw "Running Fence," she said, referring to the draping of the Pont-Neuf in Champagne-colored cloth in 1985 and a 24-mile nylon curtain that stretched through Sonoma and Marin Counties in California in 1976. " 'Running Fence' - to me that was the most beautiful one," she said. "The hills were beautiful and soft, and the light as the wind blew was magic. I will never forget that for the rest of my life."

    About 100 hard-core fans live out their commitment by helping to assemble the projects. Iris Sandkuhler, an artist from San Francisco, has worked on seven Christo installations to date. "I did my first one as a teenager, and now I am in my 40's," Ms. Sandkuhler said. "In 1978, an art instructor in North Carolina piled us into a van and said you have to do this," she said, describing her initiation, a modest Christo project involving the wrapping of some streets in Kansas City.

    The commitment is not without its physical challenges. "Working in water in the Biscayne Bay," she said, "we had to lace the panels together, and there was nothing to stand on, so we were in the water floundering around."

    "But the hardest one for me," Ms. Sandkuhler mused, "was when I worked for them in Paris, and I was sleeping on a couch in the office right next to the bathroom."

    Copyright 2005 The New York Times Company

  15. #30


    The installation of Christo Gates continues. Sheep Meadow. 8 February 2005.

    The installation of Christo Gates continues. Central Park near Eagles and Prey sculpture. 8 February 2005.

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