CHRISTO AND JEANNE-CLAUDE
Three Works from Three Private Collections in Bulgaria
23 July – 25 October 2020
The National Gallery is presenting an exhibition of works by Christo and Jeanne-Claude in Kvadrat 500 in Sofia. As a result of the gracious partnership with three private Bulgarian collectors of contemporary art, the museum halls will host three original works by the artists, extensive photographic documentation from numerous projects, and detailed facts from the career of the couple. Christo and Jeanne-Claude have always and fully financed the realization of their projects in public space through the sales of the preparatory sketches and drawings, collages and earlier works, rejecting any form of sponsorship or donation. The realization of their projects often takes a long process of negotiations and formal agreements with state, public and local organizations, with the consent of private owners whenever there are such, as well as with full compliance with the demands and rules of ecology.
“The Mastaba” was conceived in 1977 for a location near the Liwa oasis, about 160 km south of Abu Dhabi in the UAE. This is Christo and Jeanne-Claude’s longest running project in-progress, which is being continued now by their nephews. In 1979 Christo and Jeanne-Claude visited for the first time the United Arab Emirates. In many subsequent visits they established lasting friendships with the people of Abu Dhabi. The project progressed through various stages such as the independent, separated research by engineering teams from several countries, the analysis of the social and economic aspects of the realization, etc. “The Mastaba” is envisioned as the largest permanent sculpture in the world. Seen within the context of Islamic architecture, it will be 150 m high, 225 m deep at the 60 degree slanted walls and 300 m wide at the vertical walls. The colors and the positioning of the 410 000, 55-gallon steel barrels were selected by Christo and Jeanne-Claude already in 1979.
Christo and Jeanne-Claude’s vision for “Over the River” was conceived in 1992 and included 9.5 km of silvery, luminous fabric panels to be suspended clear of and high above the water in eight distinct areas along a 67.6 km stretch of the Arkansas River between Cañon City and Salida in south-central Colorado, USA. In August 1992, 1993 and 1994, in search of a site for the project, Christo and Jeanne-Claude and their team traveled 22 530 km in the Rocky Mountains in the United States. On those trips, the team prospected eighty-nine rivers, in seven states, and six possible locations were identified. After a new visit in the summer of 1996, the Arkansas River in Colorado was selected. Christo received all federal, state and local permits necessary to realize “Over the River” in 2011. But in 2012, a local group opposed to this temporary work of art filed lawsuits against Colorado State Parks in State Court and against the United States Federal Government, Bureau of Land Management, in U.S. Federal Court. In January 2017, with all these actions and in the political climate influenced by the election of Donald Trump as President of the USA, Christo announced that he will no longer work on the realization of “Over the River”.
The visually incredibly efficient monumental installation “Surrounded Islands” in Biscayne Bay of Greater Miami in Florida, USA was realized in 1983. Eleven of the islands situated in the area were surrounded with floating pink woven polypropylene fabric covering the surface of the water and extending out 61 m from each island into the bay. The fabric was sewn to follow the contours of each of the 11 islands. For two weeks the “Surrounded Islands” was seen, approached and enjoyed from the roads, the land, the water and the air. The luminous pink color of the shiny fabric was in harmony with the tropical vegetation of the uninhabited islands, as well as with the light of the Miami sky and the colors of the shallow waters of Biscayne Bay.
The exhibition is realized with the support of VIVACOM.