Christo and Jeanne-Claude: Floating Piers

It has been 11 years since Christo and Jeanne-Claude completed a “The Gates” (1979-2005) that reimagined Central Park in dreary February.  The installation of 7,503 gates outfitted with flowing saffron fabric (the shade of Christo’s beloved Jeanne-Claude’s hair) over 23 miles of pathways was quite the attraction.  All walks of life passed through the projects disarming beauty while some denied the audacity of such a feat of will and artistic ingenuity.  Regardless of any hullabaloo, it was an experience to behold generating countless smiles and more importantly, a conversation on beauty and its meaning.

Jeanne-Claude passed away in 2009, leaving some to wonder if Christo would be able to push some of his remaining large-scale projects through the necessary bureaucratic hoops without his trusted collaborator and project-manager.  But this summer Christo will walk on water, literally, with the “Floating Piers” (2014-2016), on Lake Iseo, in northern Italy from June 18th to July 3.

The piers, 3km long covered in 70,000 square metres of yellow fabric, will extend from Sulzano to the isolated island of Monte Isola.  The dock system will float on water by way of 200,000 high-density polyethylene.  The project is a collaboration with Germano Celant, the artistic director of the Prada Foundation based in Milan and renowned critic/curator.

Christo, who turned 80 years old in 2015, has sped up his process working with great urgency as he faces mortality.  Two other projects the artist wishes to complete are “Mastaba” in Abu Dhabi, consisting of 410,000 multicolored oil barrels mirroring Islamic architecture and “Over The River,” 5.9 miles of silver fabric stretching over the Arkansas River in Colorado.


Christo The Floating Piers (Project for Lake Iseo, Italy) Collage 2014 17 x 22″ (43.2 x 55.9 cm) Pencil, wax crayon, enamel paint, photograph by Wolfgang Volz, map, fabric sample and tape Photo: André Grossmann © 2014 Christo





Christo, Abu Dhabi Mastaba (Project for United Arab Emirates) Drawing 1977 22 x 28″ (56 x 71 cm) Pencil, wax crayon, pastel and charcoal Photo: Eeva-Inkeri © 1977 Christo



Christo, Over the River (Project for Arkansas River, State of Colorado) Drawing 2010 in two parts 15 x 96″ and 42 x 96″ (38 x 244 cm and 106.6 x 244 cm) Pencil, pastel, charcoal, wax crayon, enamel paint, wash, fabric sample, hand-drawn topographic map and technical data Photo: André Grossmann © 2010 Christo Ref. # 78


Galerie Gmurzynska in St. Moritz, celebrates these efforts and the upcoming “Floating Piers” project in the exhibition “Christo & Jeanne-Claude. Works in Progress” until March 30.  Let us hope that the realization of “Floating Piers,” will help to bring the other projects to fruition.


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