Welcome to Villa Speranza.

Welcome to Villa Speranza.

Search This Blog

Loading...

Translate

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Lago d'Iseo






Christo on Lake Iseo in Italy, where his solo project, “The Floating Piers,” is scheduled to open in June. 

It’s been a decade since those 16 days in February 2005 when the artist duo Christo and Jeanne-Claude installed 7,500 gates along New York's Central Park’s walkways, each adorned with shimmering saffron-colored panels creating what Christo described as “a golden river appearing and disappearing through the branches of the trees.”


It was a spectacle like no other in the park’s long history.

The $20 million project, financed by the sale of Christo’s artworks, pumped nearly $250 million into the city’s economy and attracted four million visitors.

“It put New York City in the international headlines for something hopeful for the first time since 9/11,” recalled Patricia E. Harris, the former deputy mayor and, for decades, a leading supporter of the project with her boss, Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg.

“It reminded the world that our city’s artistic spirit was alive and well.”
And also showed the world that art has the power to change the landscape.

Whether they were wrapping the Reichstag in a million square feet of fabric, or raising a 365-foot-high curtain across a valley in Colorado, Christo and Jeanne-Claude produced visual feats that resonated with the public in a way few artists ever have.

“You become part of the dialogue,” said Germano Celant, the Italian curator.

“These projects are a kind of dream, one that everybody can understand and everybody can participate in.”



Lake Iseo in northern Italy, where the artist Christo will set, from June 18 to July 3, his latest project “The Floating Piers.” 

But since Jeanne-Claude’s death in 2009, from complications of a brain aneurysm, some wondered if the dream had died too.

It seemed to many that Christo had disappeared from public view.

The couple had been inseparable for 47 years, collaborators for most of that time.

She was the more vocal and visible, with her flaming red hair, a shade she enjoyed telling people was specially chosen by her husband.

They even shared the same birthday, June 13, 1935, and a penchant for using only a first name.

He was born Christo Javacheff in Bulgaria, his wife Jeanne-Claude de Guillebon in Morocco.
In fact, Christo has been quietly busy, juggling several projects at once. And now, he is poised for a comeback on his own.

His first commercial art exhibition in nearly 50 years opens on Nov. 6, at the Craig Starr Gallery in Manhattan, with examples of some of his earliest works, his Show Windows and Store Fronts, architectural installations he started making in the early 1960s, shortly after he and Jeanne-Claude arrived in New York from Paris.
But it is “The Floating Piers,” his first fantastical outdoor installation since “The Gates” and the first project conceived since Jeanne-Claude’s death that consumes his every waking hour.

For 16 days starting June 18, on Italy’s tiny Lake Iseo, the public will be able to walk for nearly two miles on water, atop 200,000 floatable cubes covered in glittering, dahlia-yellow fabric fashioned from tightly woven nylon. “They will feel the movement of the water under foot,” Christo said. “It will be very sexy, a bit like walking on a water bed.”



A drawing and collage rendering of “The Floating Piers” project for Italy’s Lake Iseo.

A wiry figure with tufts of snow-white hair, Christo speaks quickly, with a thick Bulgarian accent, in a high-octane, animated fashion.

He often gets so wound up that he is actually unable to sit still.
“I love to work; I love to walk."

"Basically I like to move around and do physical things,” he said recently, wearing baggy bluejeans and a light blue shirt, pacing up and down the second floor of his SoHo home and studio in a 200-year-old building he and Jeanne-Claude bought in 1973.

This is where collectors come to buy his artwork — impeccably rendered collages of his projects, with the proceeds channeled back into his public projects.

Right now the walls are filled with “Floating Piers” drawings alongside some of his wrapped objects, including an old-fashioned wall telephone clad in canvas and plastic tied together with bits of old string.
“I don’t like anything about computers,” Christo continued.

“Young people today on their flat screens, it’s all virtual."

"Nothing is real."

"All our projects involve real things — real wind, real sun, real wet, real danger, real drama."

"And this is very invigorating for me.”



“Surrounded Islands” (1980-83), in Miami.

But another very real constant throughout his career is the often excruciating process of waiting — sometimes decades — for a project to come to fruition.

Works are sometimes held up because of politics — securing the necessary government clearances and permits or wading through opposition from local dissenters. Other times, delays are caused by the sheer complexity of the undertaking.
Christo and Jeanne-Claude waited 32 years to shroud 161 trees in black and white polyester mesh in a park in Basel, Switzerland.

Nearly 25 years to get the green light to install “The Gates” in New York's Central Park.

24 years for the German government to give the approval to wrap the Reichstag in Berlin in aluminum-colored fabric.

10 years for French authorities to approve their vision for shrouding the Pont Neuf in Paris with 454,178 square feet of champagne-colored textile; seven years before they were able to plant a forest of umbrellas in the rice paddies near Tokyo and along the hillsides of Southern California.
“I turned 80 in June,” Christo declared one afternoon during an interview at his house.

He recalled a car ride he took last year from Stuttgart, Germany, to his warehouse in Basel, Switzerland, with his nephew Vladimir Yavachev, and Wolfgang Volz, his photographer and the project manager of “The Floating Piers.”



A scale-model test of “The Mastaba” project for the United Arab Emirates. 

“I cannot wait so long anymore,” he told them.

“I am not sure I will live another 10 years.

I think we should do something not so complicated.

Something we can manage. Something we can actually get done.”
Jeanne-Claude had taken care of the practical side of their projects — the organization and financial details — leaving Christo to throw himself into the creative end. “I have always worked alone,” he explained about his art.

He has kept his studio a family affair, relying on Jeanne-Claude’s two young assistants: Yavachev, now operations manager of “Piers,” and Jonathan Henery, Jeanne-Claude’s nephew, who runs Christo’s office.












“I’m always missing Jeanne-Claude,” Christo said a bit wistfully.



A brilliant problem-solver, “her ferociously critical mind” has left a huge void, he said.



“Wrapped Reichstag” (1971-1995). C

Christo is carrying on the couple’s two remaining projects, both challenging.

One, intended for an oasis about 100 miles west of Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates, was conceived in 1977 and is an immensetrapezoidal benchlike structure called “The Mastaba.”

It would be the tallest project in his career, reaching nearly 500 feet high, fashioned from 410,000 multicolored barrels.

(He is working with the ruling family of Abu Dhabi on the logistics of the project.)
“The Mastaba” is to be one of Christo’s few permanent installations and — though it may have been designed years ago — it feels fitting to ask if he isn’t seeing it in different terms now, perhaps as a marker of his life and mortality.
Balking at the premise that it is in any way about death, he instead called this monumental work “a very natural, three-dimensional shape that is older even than a pyramid.”



Christo and his wife, Jeanne-Claude, attending the opening of “The Gates” in Central Park with Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg. 

The other work in progress is “Over the River,” begun in 1992, a temporary installation that involves suspending 5.9 miles of silvery fabric panels high above the Arkansas River in south-central Colorado.

Approved by the federal and state governments, it faces opposition from a local group, which contends that “Over the River” will be destructive to the environment and the wildlife in Bighorn Sheep Canyon.

A suit to overturn permits issued for the project is pending in federal appellate court.
In contrast, “The Floating Piers,” 60 miles east of Milano, has been a breeze. “Giuseppe Faccanoni, the president of the lake, helped us get the permissions in less than a year,” Christo said.

“I wanted to go back to Italy. We have done projects there before.

There’s great food, beautiful landscape.”
Lake Iseo is perhaps the least known of Italy’s northern lakes, an idyllic spot with two small islands not yet overrun with tourists (unlike Lake Como, known for celebrity residents like George Clooney).

To Christo, Lake Iseo also offers a storybook landscape.

“It has beautiful small villages and houses and churches and Roman ruins.

To go to the mainland, residents go by traghetto,” he said, using the Italian word for a small boat or ferry. “

The Floating Piers” will connect the islands to each other and to the mainland. “You will be able to walk the entire area,” Christo explained.

The project will also be visible from the surrounding mountains.

As the light changes throughout the day, the view of the piers will change, too, from deep yellow to shimmering gold to a reddish hue when wet.

Photo

“Valley Curtain,” an early work in Colorado. 

About a half-million people are expected to visit “The Floating Piers,” its opening timed to coincide with the last two days of Art Basel, the contemporary art fair, an easy pilgrimage of roughly 275 miles.

The project is estimated to cost about $11 million, money Christo said he has already raised from the sale of his art.

(Works for sale in Craig Starr’s show range from $400,000 for a collage to $7 million for one of the 1960s Store Fronts, similar to the ones first shown by Leo Castelli, the legendary dealer.)
Celant, the project director of “The Floating Piers,” helped Christo get the necessary approvals. Scientists, structural engineers and divers, along with teams of construction workers, have been involved in the Piers creation, floating a section with the covered fabric on a lake in Germany last year to see how they would look.

In February, Christo tested the structural integrity of the piers for wind and wave heights by placing sections in the Black Sea.

Starting in December, divers will place 140 five-ton anchors up to 300 feet deep in Lake Iseo.

Right now, about one million square feet of fabric is being specially woven in a factory in Germany.
The final installation is expected to take a week and will involve a team of some 600 workers.
Again, as he and Jeanne-Claude did beginning in the 1980s, Christo plans to give each visitor a party favor of sorts, perhaps an actual piece of fabric from the installation.

“Normally it’s a postcard you bring home,” Celant said. “A bit of fabric becomes a part of history.”
Given the ephemeral nature of these installations, all that remains is the indelible memory.

“It creates an incredible urgency,” Christo said, “because it will never take place again. That’s why it’s so exciting.”

No comments:

Post a Comment