Christo, The Gates Project for Central Park, New York, 2004. Courtesy of Puccio Fine Art.

Christo and Jeanne-Claude: The Gates

In February 2005, Christo and Jeanne-Claude (his wife and creative partner) inaugurated The Gates in New York City, sending 600 uniformed workers parading through Central Park to install saffron-colored rectangular panels along the park’s winding footpaths. As part of their long-term collaborative practice of intervening in landscapes with fabric, Christo and Jeanne-Claude originally conceived The Gates in 1979, but their proposal was quickly rejected by New York City officials. Years later, with the support of Mayor Bloomberg, the duo returned to their original plan. Using 7,503 fabric panels in varying widths, the couple lined 23 miles of walkways in Central Park for 16 days. Referencing both Japanese torii (Shinto structures that mark transitions into sacred spaces) and Central Park’s famous entrances (named “gates” by the park’s original designers), Christo and Jeanne-Claude’s brightly colored gates stood in stark contrast to the leafless, snowy park. In keeping with their belief in the urgency of temporary work, the duo ensured The Gates were quickly de-installed and all materials recycled. Despite the temporary nature of the project, many of Christo’s preparatory sketches for the project exist today.

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