Wednesday, July 4, 2018

The Gates


Writing about the Mastaba yesterday made me think of another Christo artwork that I once saw, "The Gates," which he and Jeanne-Claude installed in New York's Central Park. Consisting of roughly 7,500 bright orange, curtained gates across the winding park pathways, the installation lasted for two weeks in the latter half of February 2005.

I lived in New York at the time, and worked near Times Square. As I recall, I zipped up to the park on my lunch hour one day to see The Gates shortly before they were dismantled. I took a roll of film, including these shots.


It was an interesting work. Clearly I enjoyed it enough to photograph it, but I also remember thinking that pictures couldn't really do it justice. I think the enormity of Christo and Jeanne-Claude's projects are a critical part of their impact.

Also, there was an aural element: The curtains made swishing, flapping sounds as you walked beneath them, which photos can't convey.


There were volunteers stationed around the park to keep an eye on things and answer questions from visitors. I talked to one of them, and she gave me a swatch of the specially made heavy nylon fabric that curtained each gate. I still have it:


I think the response that many of us have to Christo's art is, "WHY?" And maybe that's the response we're supposed to have -- that sense of wonder, the consideration of what it means to indulge in large-scale whimsy. Implicit in the question is the answer: "Why not?"

15 comments:

Elizabeth said...

I was visiting New York then to attend a gala for a non-profit foundation that I was a founder -- and I, too, walked through and looked at "the gates." It was a snowy and very wintery day in Central Park, so the effect was magical -- bitter cold, gray skies and white snow, the orange fabric blowing in the wind. I loved it. Why not, indeed?

Yorkshire Pudding said...

"Interesting" and "whimsy" are they keywords in this blogpost. In my humble opinion, Art should enrich, move, engage, entertain... and not leave onlookers flummoxed.

crafty cat corner said...

I wonder what they did with them afterwards
Briony
x

Sharon Anck said...

I remember this one too, however I only saw photos of it. You are right, why not. I had dinner with my friend David last night (he's also someone who loves London) and I showed him your pictures. He was in awe of such a massive installation.

Marty Damon said...

The first thing that always springs to my mind with Christo's installations is how did he ever get the city fathers to permit them? Although Crafty Cat Corner above also has a good point.
I would have loved to experience this one - and I'd never thought about the sound it must have produced. I wonder if that was a conscious intention on the artist's part.

ellen abbott said...

I suppose. the only thing I wonder about his work is how much it costs to do his projects.

Ms. Moon said...

Whimsy is good.
And yes, I, like Ellen always wonder how much these installations cost.

robin andrea said...

Christo's works are always intriguing... leaving one with the questions you posed: Why? Why not? The answer is part of the art itself.

Red said...

The beauty of art is that it is completely creative. These guys developed and works with a new medium and size.

Colette said...

I wish I had seen that and walked underneath. They seem so monumental.

jenny_o said...

Further to YP's comment, I agree that art should "enrich, move, engage, entertain" but my opinion is that different things do that for different people. What works for one person doesn't necessarily work for another, and vice versa. I rather like some of them and since the artist is using his own money and is trying to balance the impact on the environment, "why not" is the question I come to as well!

Catalyst said...

I wonder what scientists could discern from examining his brain. :)))

Lorianne said...

Several friends of mine met-up in NYC to see the Gates, and I absolutely loved it. I loved the way the addition of some cloth and metal transformed Central Park into an ambulatory art installation. It felt like the whole world came to NYC to see and walk through them.

The Bug said...

I remember the Gates installation, but I don't know why. Did you ever blog about it before? 2005 is before I was on social media. Whoever was talking about it wasn't sure how they felt about it either.

Linda Sue said...

How lucky to have a bit of the gate. I never would have thought they would look like that. Maybe you will be lucky again and get a barrel , bright pink for your garden.