Okay, so the other day when I went to the AGO and posted about the sculpture and landscape shows, the reason I went was to accompany a visitor who wanted to see the Christo show. At the time I decided not to bother posting my extreme distate for Christo's work, as why give it the attention. But now the "Gates" are going up in Central Park, and so there's a bit of discussion here and here but not there about what a dreadful idea it is.
I say Christo is good for kids: "See, art can be anything you want it to be ... especially if your arrogance supersedes your aesthetic judgement and you don't mind inflicting your massive ugly whims on everybody else."
It is supposedly a good thing that Christo pays for it all himself out of his hard work selling maquettes, etc. But I find it even more frustrating that the guy just moves his ideas forward, without peer review, or, and this may be the only time I say this, market validation. I know he has to go through lots of bureaucratic hoops, and maybe the fact he's able to pull off the required permissions means that he has some cultural credibility, but I'm not convinced. This quote from today's NY Times is chilling:
The [police] department is dispatching helicopters that broadcast live aerial feeds, building a 24-hour command center in the Loeb Boathouse at the park and adding several hundred police officers to the park's 125-person police force. There will be 20 officers on horseback and 43 on scooter patrol. In addition, the artists have hired a 36-person private security team to maintain round-the-clock surveillance. Raymond W. Kelly, the police commissioner, said the artists would reimburse the city for any costs it incurs, including the increased security.
As if littering the park with yellow fabric weren't oppressive enough, there's gonna be massive surveillance and police presence protecting the stuff as well. How nice for everyone.
If the way that he is able to pay for all of it is by selling off pieces and sketches, then what market are you referring to that isn't validating what Christo and Jeanne-Claude do?
And as for the "massive surveillance and police presence protecting the stuff," don't most museums have the same exact thing?
Okay well I take your first point. That makes perfect sense. And he does seem pretty popular. Go figure.
But as for your second point, there is a big difference between policing what is possibly the most-used public park in the world, and an art museum.
I think by market validation Sally is talking about the value of Christos when they come up for auction, are sold by secondary market dealers, etc. Without doing any research I'd guess current Christos aren't worth very much relative to the usual market "players." Early Christos might do better, again just a guess.
People really do seem to like it though. My friends keep going on about it, even the ones who should know better.
I always think of Chisto's work in relation to movie making. It's cheap by those standards. Probably less police protection needed for this than there will be for the next Die Hard movie (Die Harderer) or the opening of the next Star Wars. And the public kinda likes it, it makes them think about art a bit, and it's free. I'd rather this than 200 sculptures of animals (moose, cow, cow and in San Franciso a big heart) all over the city. In New york they always talk aobut how much the police protection is going to cost when it's something the police don't particularily want to protect. New York is constantly doing this - the city ALWAYS has something going on. This week it's Christo, next it'll be something else.
So stop beeing so crabby.
An awful lot of bad work could fit in those parameters you just described. The public kind of likes McDonald's, it approximates the food experience for them, and it's cheap.
most art is awful - should only good art be made? yes. Given that that's not possible don't we have to defend this? I mentioned the cows for a reason. This is the worst crap there is for public art. It has gone through all the proper channels and received public funding. All the contributors are reviewed by the proper boards and comities and it ends up looking like crap that another city already did three years ago. That art is Macdonalds.
Christo is Some big fancy steak house. I don't want to eat there either, but it is a better meal.
See how I took your analogy and flipped it? BAM! there's no defense for that.
"Peter Luger" - Damn I remembered to late. That would have sealed it for sure instead of "fancy steak house". This way's better for the Torontonians though.
Yes there is a difference "between policing what is possibly the most-used public park in the world, and an art museum." However, when one is viewing art, no matter where it is, one is being scrutinized rather carefully. So to me it isn't such a big deal - vis-a-vis the art. Being scrutinized rather carefully sucks pretty much whenever it happens.
As for Tom's comments http://tinyurl.com/65wzg shows what has sold by Christo and Jeanne-Claude at Sotheby's. My guess would be each one of the 138 pieces went for more than it was originally purchased. For comparison purposes there have been 35 Flavin's sold by Sotheby's in the same time period.
Who are the "usual market "players.""?
Then finally, I'd give my right eye-tooth to eat at Peter Luger's right now...
Dan Flavin is a usual market player. I'm going to keep on guessing and say that 35 Flavins cost way more than 138 Christos, but that may just be me assuming the market follows assessments of the artists' relative contributions to art.
Comparing Flavin's works for sale to Christo and Jeanne-Claude's, using price, is like comparing steaks (I still wanna go to to Peter Luger's) to strawberries using weight.
If the Reichstag wrapped was able to be put up for sale it would so completely beat anything Flavin did that it wouldn't be funny. But as we are comparing things, one drawing by Christo went for $96,000 US. A complete set of sketches by Flavin went for $2,160 US. A minor and tiny piece by Christo went for $130,000 US, a big and important piece by Flavin went for $210,000 US.
Thanks for doing some research. Sounds like you think the Christos are important artists! Your Reichstag example is pure speculation, but maybe the market will come around to your enthusiastic view and documentation of that event will go for large lucre. (My opinion is that burning the Reichstag was significant but wrapping it was kind of silly.) Since sales of actual, commodifiable artworks is what we're discussing, perhaps, realistically, Flavin leads in the "major piece" category? I don't know what to say about the sketches, except it's with deep regret I learn that buyers attach that much worth to "Christo and Jeanne-Claude."
sly stallone buying art again ?
The police thing bugs me cause of the use of public space. I like a lot of big outdoor art that uses public space, and I like a lot of intervention too. I'd say the wrapped Reichstag is an unusual work by Christo because it enters a shared public dialogue. Other public art that I like does this as well (Rafael Lozano-Hemmer, for instance). Normally, though, Christo's stuff is about imposing something. And, as quoted on Schwarz,"appropriation of the object." It's pretty clear that Christo is successful, and his works have impact, but I think they are oppressive and often mean and I wouldn't want him in my backyard. (Just for context, I'm not a big fan of the earthworks guys either - the Spiral Jetty doesn't do much for me. Walter De Maria I like, because he seems to offer a little more and impose a little less.)
"the christos"! tom, that is a common error :
Error: "Mr. Christo"
NO: Christo is his first name and the only one he uses. Jeanne-Claude also uses her first name .However, their son Cyril uses Christo's first name as his legal last name: Cyril Christo, born May 11, 1960, is a published poet.
Error: "Jean-Claude" We also get letters addressed to Mr.and Mrs. Claude
No: Jeanne-Claude. (in French Jean-Claude is a man's name.) Some people think that our Last name is Claude. (because of Christo and Jeanne-Claude)
also see common error: "Christo always sold his work at high price."
I was being cute with "the Christos"--his real last name is Javacheff--but thanks for the excerpt.
"Christo is successful and his works have impact"--we're back to McDonald's, here.
i knew that. just having fun. nyt's kimmelman pulling punches today. if the man in the street central park interviews were read as a focus group for the art world, we would see a massive marketing shift to the c-jc way of doing things. i think we're really just waiting for this non-art event to blow over.
We need our irony emoticons. But then those could be ironic.
I hope you guys in NYC are stocking up on saffron coffee mugs and baby-t's.
"Jeanne-Claude, your design is good, but it needs color to have impact."
"We've done pink."
"And an incredible pink it was."
"What are you thinking, Christo?"
"I never laugh at your ideas."
"My God. But wait...didn't we do orange?"
"Mon chéri, you're right. How could I forget Valley Curtain
[Rifle, Colorado 1970-72]? All right, no matter, this time instead of orange we'll call it 'saffron.'"
Updated based on some assiduous Christo scholarship from Dan.
He does have a market!
I mean, who needs Christie's when you have eBay?
the ultimate peer review.
Tom, I've been successfully blocking from my mind that whole cloying 'relationship' aspect of the Christo-Jean-Claude coallition. Your evil little dialogue has broken the seal , AUGH. feh. (and very funny...good one!)
kid – gets an idea and does it.
adult – gets an idea and analyses it till it has no value left to
kid – gets an idea and does it.
"parent" – gets an idea and analyses it till it has no value left to
adult - synthesizes the two
I bet those weren’t real monks that walked through the gates. I’ll bet they were actors hired by CJC to add credibility.
BTW, congrats Sal on your longest comment list yet.
no way dude. You thought Christo (and JC) was popular, you should try Art Criticism (76 comments)(ie: too many comments).
Seriously,......this comments page requires seat belts!
C'mon you guys. Leave your studios for an afternoon and saunter around under the damn things. If you continue to despise them, fine. But right now you sound like the Academie Francaise, all in a dither about that damn Pisarro. I'm not an artist, but on good days, after I've had some coffee, I'm a semi-decent craftsman, and the craft of what these people did, the way they figured out how to involve so many individuals and institutions, much less textures, materials and whims of weather, how they plotted and planned and worked it all out so that many hands could assemble it without severing a digit, how can you not at least note the utopian nature of all that? I'm gonna get my ass kicked for saying all this, aren't I? Well, today, after floating along in the orange river, I ended up at the Tim Hawkinson show at the Whitney and liked that too. A high tide lifts all boats. The more art, the better. Make more art.
Yes, we have a real Academie Francaise thing going on over on my page.
"A high tide lifts all boats." You make a nice point, Rob, and it is just a couple of weeks. Hate that Tim Hawkinson though. I can't believe you paid money to see it! (kidding! kidding.) I was recently tempted to tell a fellow blogger, "you should get out more," but realised that was a can of worms that I, for one, did not want opened! (hey, it's freezing rain out there, man!)
This James Carl project is more my speed. Tom has posted some print media criticism of Christo here.
Re: Orange... "Yes. Orange."
They *have* done Orange before, folks:
What a bunch of late-winter curmudgeons! The Wrapped Reichstag was possibly the most inspiring and inspired work of art of the 20th Century. Christo is a revolutionary genius who rivals Che Guevara in terms of audacity and idealism. I love the work of Christo and Jeanne-Claude, and I'm proud to say so, especially on Saint Valentine's day.
Artists of the World Cheer Up!
Jesus--Che Guevara. ("Jesus," as in "I can't believe you just said that.")
Nice one bill. Very to the point.
Hmm, that just made me think of what all those "gates" would look like with Che's face stencilled on them. (like every hippy's t-shirt and messenger bag) Or, better yet, Bill Gate's face. And a microsoft logo.
this what ive been able to gather :
1) christo's work does mean something
2) jean-claudes work does not mean anything, but is something you feel.
3) jean-claude became an official collaborating partner on equal footing with christo somewhere along the course of their long term married relationship.
4) they each think up ideas and then talk about them together. regardless of who's idea it was they both share the credit and the blame equally. like lennon and mccartney. despite ocasionally coming up with the music and lyrics separately they still share writing credit.
5) christo does the drawings and collages himself.
6) jean-claude does most of the talking for the two.
7) christos ideas still hinge on his early (masculine) wrapping work.
8) jean-claude takes a different (more feminine) approach as in the encircled biscayne bay florida islands.
9) christo used to have a lot to say about what his work means but less so now.
10) their work started taking on a larger more ambitious scale when jean-claude came on board.
11) thats around the time they dropped the idea that the work does mean something. rather it is something that you experience in a visceral way.
12) this allowed for less confusion for the public. a smaller intellectual bite to chew under the circumstances. a necessicary dumbing down to the masses for the broadest possible effect.
13) the work is justified by the exhilerating experience
14) the ends do justify the means
15) or not
Bill, if ever a soulmate starts driving my artistic bus, will you please just shoot me (or the soulmate)?
i recommend taking separate busses.
i actually do admire people who can make their marriage work. but keeping you art on course is pretty (heavily understated here) important too. good read that NY magazine story.
To Jeanne-Claude, their complementary sensibilities are self-evident. “For example, Surrounded Islands is not an idea of Christo, it is an idea of Jeanne-Claude,” she says. “That is why, if you look at it carefully, you might find it a little bit more feminine than other projects. The Wrapped Reichstag was Christo’s idea, and that is very much less feminine.”
in the first person yet.
I wonder who's idea it was to have thier sculptures tip over and kill people. I'm going with masculine idea on that one.
has one of their works ever done this?
bill: "they each think up ideas and then talk about them together. regardless of who's idea it was they both share the credit and the blame equally. like lennon and mccartney. despite ocasionally coming up with the music and lyrics separately they still share writing credit."
Ahh, but who owns those songs now?
"I wonder who's idea it was to have thier sculptures tip over and kill people."
"has one of their works ever done this?"
In California, one of their Umbrellas blew over and killed someone.
ok, I think I got it. The reason why people dislike christos work is because he's a big target. The more successful a person is the more people want to see that person fail. Is it envy? Who knows, but I doubt my opinion matters to christo, much alone would dissuade him from pursuing his work. It's like running around telling everyone picasso sucks (or whoever else is a big super-star artist). Whether or not it's true, it's history, it's already in the books, literally.
I guess others opinions shouldn't dissuade one's art, but having your art cause someones death would probably make most (artist) step back and question whether their work was worth it.
Not this pair! They are unstoppable and relentless! That's the point of their art. YOU CAN NOT STOP THE CHRISTOS.
Picasso sucks. except for Guernica.
Update (the next morning): I have more to say on this, but can't stand the idea of adding a new post to this thread, so I'm just gonna expand here on my glib Picasso comment from last night. To respond to the post above about trashing people just cause they are famous...while this does happen, I would rather err in that direction than fall into the trap of thinking that solidarity between artists means everyone is supposed to keep their trap shut. Better to have a little friction than an art discourse full of vapid Pollyannas. AND, what's with the wrist-slapping? This thread is silly in bits, but people are providing genuine, thoughtful response to a massive art phenomenon that is getting tons of attention, but very little critique. Obviously this discussion is not intended as a message to Christo, but a conversation amongst people with a passion for culture. Those history books you speak of don't write themselves.
By the way, Tom Moody took up Rob Akerman's challenge and went to see The Gates.
My girlfriend's brother went to see it the other day, apparently there were people behind them going " Whudda fuk? Whudda fuk iz dis?"
That would have made the experience worthwhile.
the wrist slapping, as you have put it, is just another part of the discourse, just a reminder that the critic needs not only be critical of the artist motives but also their own. Just look at the previous comment as friction within this discussion, not as wrist slapping, just another opinion in a world of many.
Your also right, books don't write themselves, they are marketing tools used to place their subjects within a historical context. What does this tell us? Publish or perish.
i submit this link to provide some back ground on the wrapping and gender issue. sally has already linked to my recent post attempting to reconcile christo's apparent appropriation of man ray's (tieing and wrapping) development in the dadaist/surrealist approach to art making.
Why such animosity?
I don't get the point of your negativity. Do you care about creative cultural endeavors or just care about your own personal ethnocentric artistic interests? What good does it do you or the public to disparage the Gates project? I think your critical analysis suffers from a case of claustrophobic superiority syndrome. It is all wound up in your own restricted ideology of what art should be and how artists should function.
I suppose if the installation had been some kind of Mac collage with tiresome digitized illustrational recycled pseudo pop graphic imagery you would find it validating?
Your no different than the mass of drones that think all art should only be a pretty well crafted aesthetic decoration. There is room for all kinds of art: decorative installation to appease the masses as well as cutting edge technological exercises in boring rotational graphics.
We (those in my household) think Tom has a right to be grumpy, and sure, yeah there should be room for all kinds of art and yeah we like conceptual art a lot, but Christo and Jeanne-Claude's art is "stupid and over-rated" (to quote Von Bark who is hanging over my shoulder as I type).
Wait, there's more from VB...."I could tolerate Christo's stuff if everybody didn't make such a big deal out of it, as if it was the biggest thing to hit New York in the 21st century. There's lots of artists who are popular that I have a lot of respect for, but when someone reaches superstar status it's like the emperor's clothes. They are open game if their stuff is pretentious, which it is in this case."
More from Von Bark: It's about esteem. Most of the art we look at is appreciated by some people. There is a very small minority at the top of the heirarchy of recognition that is obviously overrated. There is lots of work that is underrated, and we try to see that they get more appreciation. At the very top and the very bottom of this spectrum the relationship between the value of the work in itself, and the attention it gets, is kind of random.
Well YOU might not like The Gates but YOUR CAT might!!!!
Excellent Moody writing. Especially loved the line about the installation feeling like a vast corporate habitrail. That kicked butt. Also enjoyed Joe calling death by umbrella a masculine art event. Went to the park again today and realized another reason I'm so irrationally fond of The Gates. They transport me. Literally. I follow them. And despite thousands of prior visits to Central Park, several of the views I had today were completely new to me. Did you ever notice the rustic stone arch at West 110th Street? Have you climbed every hobbit hill above the Harlem Meer? Can you recall seeing the full expanse of North Meadow from the incline at West 96th Street? The more you see The Gates, the more you see in general. That's reason enough to call them great. Sally, you're right. We should all be getting out more. Always.
thank , Rob. Just walked through my local park to fetch cat litter and it was lovely. Nice afternoon moon high in the cold blue sky. No snow, but ground frozen hard enough that my bundle wheels didn't get bogged in mud. Two kids skipping school to slap a puck around on the rink.
And folks, ya gotta follow Jatsimpleposie's link (above). It's hilarious!
My problem is that I've got way more to say about Christo/J-C than will fit politely on a blog.
I used to get excited by the sheer size, or spectacle of their work. I loved the fact that they’d get an idea and make it happen. But the bloom is off the rose for me, on this one. Big stuff used to be rivetting (mountains, cathedrals, the Grand Canyon, a thousand-dollar bill, Jack’s beanstalk). Now we’re enured to Big: rock concerts, Multinationals, Pope visits, big-box stores, mega bombs, the CN tower. Only grandmothers are astonished any more that emails can come from Lisbon. And Big has a bad rap, when it’s put in context with words like “handmade/ community/ original/ tender.” Plus you can get on your computer and stick your uncle’s face up there with the guys on Mount Rushmore, no problem. But this idea of how Christo/J-C go on and on while the context changes around them is in itself pretty interesting. And look at the wonderful thing that happens to scale with Hargo’s gates (see Sally’s link). We’re so used to Big being the norm that we’re rivetted in reverse, to a hilariously ironic tiny version.
Are New Yorkers who’ve seen the gates going to look at the park differently after they’ve been taken down? (Does “Art” change the way we look at the world?) And the parallel implicit question, since this is NYC: how does that relate to the way the skyline looks without the twin towers? (That debacle may well have curbed our taste for Spectacle.)
Imagine a world without a piece of coastline, or a Reichstag. The what-if, the old Time Travel gambit: go back and marry the wrong guy, or stray off the designated path to pick a flower, and you bugger up the future. This kind of thinking is usually speculative, but Christo/J-C’s work objectifies it. There’s something outrageous in this cavalier messing with nature (never mind messing with Olmsted's original piece of art). But maybe it’s no more objectified, nor outrageous, than dumping raw sewage into the ocean, or burying land mines, or the other depradations of our real-time Time Travel.
Malvolio. You remember him? He's the guy who can't abide the Twelfth Night festivities in Shakespeare's play and eventually ends up tortured, locked in a dark cell, begging for light, pen and paper. The playwright may have mocked that character but he felt for him too. Artists aren't joiners. I pity everyone who hates The Gates. Last night they stood in their receding lines, glowing in swirling snow, and what I heard was, "Please stop fussing. We'll be gone next week. Good night, everybody."
I don't want your pity, but it's OK if you like the gates!
Malvolio was cool, but I had my teenager crush on Mercutio! You go, hot loyalty sword-fight dude!
I'll take Tom's extra pitty if nobody's using it.
I've found out that you can rent surfing equipment out here for like 40 bucks a day. I gotta try it, I was watching these guys and it looks so fun. Plus I've got a friend who will teach me. Kristin thiks I need to be able to swim better but what am I going to do out-swim the sharks? Besides I went walking by myself in mountain lion country today and that turned out okay so what's the worst that could happen? What'd ya think?
If y'all can post about Shakespeare I can post about Surfing.
The most important thing is we set a new record (77 comments baby!).
wrap my wranch
Good heavens, this will be interesting! Somewhere in the press coverage (I can't remember where), ChristoJ-C were adamant that they never use anyone else's ideas.
It's subtle, but it's satire. Of course we're immediately willing to believe that the Christos and the Bushes are a natural fit.
yeah, pretty subtle. any time you see something like that you have to check for corroborating news posts. in this case there were none. so i had to take it as satire too. mj you were right, that idea would have never flown w/ c-jc.
And one of the headlines was "banning gay marriage could cut deficit in half". That and the banner image including the Sistine chapel Adam and God image is a bit much.
Aaargh. Just when I think I'm getting cool.
Okay, I pity everybody but Tom and especially Joe, except the part about going surfing. And I certainly pity Mercutio. Romeo is such a klutz. Oh, and I pity myself of course. Duh. I do not pity Jean. She writes too damn well. But I've read her first posting several times and I can't figure out if it's a thumbs-up or a thumbs-down. There's definitely some thumb involved.
i pity uncritical bliss.
Here's my guess: the bloom may be off the rose but it still smells as sweet. If you were here, Jean, you'd be wandering around the North Woods, tears of joy streaming down your face.
I'm a blithering bimbo, Bill.
make that, i fear uncritical bliss.
I also don't know if M.Jean's (well-written) post is giving a thumbs-up or a thumbs-down.
everyone's so binary around here!
Pity and fear. Fear and pity. Male and female. Angular and orange. Everything is binary!
Just call me Erasmus.
All that work, you should really wrap it up, pardon the pun. Here, I'll do it: "So, in conclusion, The Gates project blows chunks."
Chunks! That’s very very funny, Tom. I guess I take back that Erasmus remark. I’m perfectly capable of being opinionated, god knows, but I agree with Sally, why so binary? It doesn’t feel to me as if an opinion here is the next necessary step.
I’ve been excited over the years by Christo. I’ve got clippings in my scrapbooks that date back forty years. (Christo, I say, because J-C’s been on my radar only the last year or so.) But I must admit to being piggishly self-centered about it. What excites me about the work is the ideas I get in relation to it, and how it informs my own mental life. I don’t give a rat’s ass what they think they’re doing.
I was kind of sickened by the restrospective in the AGO. It had the feel of a kind of corporate history of industrial plastics, or something. So different, say, from the tenderness in Peter MacCallum’s photographs about the concrete industry. [see an earlier post] And the little mantras about x number of years in the making, and its being completely self-funded, that got more sanctimonious with every repetition.
So what’s interesting to me still, with The Gates, is ideas like I put in my first comment. And how one of my lifelong heros is tarnished.
That being said, Rob’s perfectly right: if I were there in Central Park looking at it I’d be weeping with joy.
So this isn’t inconclusive, it’s just wonderfully bifurcated.
"There are bighorn sheep, bald eagles and other creatures that call the canyon and river home."
According to this article by radicalized street artist Robert Lederman, the Christos' German publisher plans to police images of the Gates and even the words "The Gates," claiming copyright protection. If there's anything to this--and Lederman says he did a phone interview with the publisher--a good project for bloggers would be keeping track of any lawsuits and setting up defense funds for people sued or threatened by the power-mad Christos.
but that doesn't mean we have to stop here. Only eight more comments to go and this thread breaks the hundred mark. So come on folks, the gates may be over and gone, but we can be sure that christo is gonna keep going, let's all follow his example!
Hey anonymous...your real name wouldn't be Joester, would it?
buy hold sell
sorry, got the wrong person. I'm sure a regular like Joester wouldn't try and hide behind anonymity.
Only six more posts to go... this is a work of art in itself, and its public. Anonymity is the ultimate in public gesture, the perfect vehicle for moving through public space -- no authority.
maybe this will help put you over the top. what are the chances that someone so grating would trip on a grate and fall face first into a Gate?
kind of makes it all worthwhile. nothing nourishes the soul like taking pleasure at the misfortune of the fortunate.
but what it really is is a metapho........(snooze).........
coming up with that 21 million number.
Christo and Jeanne-Claude's epic art project, The Gates, Central Park, New York City, 1979-2005, brought over 4,000,000 visitors to the city and generated an estimated $254 million in economic activity, according to New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, an ardent Gates supporter. The Central Park Conservancy said that the estimated number of visits to Central Park during the 16-day period of the project -- over 4,000,000 -- was substantially more than the 750,000 visits the park typically gets during a similar period in February. Hotel occupancy was up from about 74 percent to about 87 percent, according to the report, equivalent to an increase in revenues of over $2 million. The Four Seasons Hotel New York, for instance, said that The Gates transformed one of the slowest months of the year into the strongest February ever.
Business at restaurants near the park also soared, as did attendance at museums along Museum Mile, the stretch of Fifth Avenue bordering the park. The Metropolitan Museum of Art reported a 90 percent jump in attendance, and a 16 percent increase in restaurant and gift-shop sales. The economic benefits extended to more modest businesses, too -- hot-dog vendors reported a 200 percent increase in sales.
As for the Gates merchandise, the Central Parks Conservancy reports that it sold approximately $4 million worth of Gates sweatshirts, posters, postcards, watches and other items, and also raised another $158,000-plus from paid trolley tours of the park. What's more, the artists provided paid employment for 1,100 workers, including nearly 700 New York residents.
Speaking for the anti-art crowd, the Wall Street Journal published a "personal journal" column suggesting that the data is optimistic, at best -- a not unreasonable argument. Now, if only the paper would practice such skepticism in its reporting on the economic posturings of Bush & Co.
Going, going, not quite gone.
When I bladed into the West 91st Street entrance to the park on Friday, there was not a trace of Gates. I mean none. Not a scrape on the pavement, not a gash in the snow, just glaringly bright sunshine and the familiar grey of dormant deciduous trees. But further downtown some saffron was intact and I stopped to watch the crews, high on endorphins, loading and offloading parts, hefting five gallon buckets, steering forklifts loaded with steel feet. The vibe was the one I feel on film crews while working on a wrap. All the tension, tending and attention is over, it feels great to just move and sweat.
Matt Freedman made me a miniature gate using a swatch he got in the park. It wears big clown-like overshoes and tilts jauntily to one side like one of those tubby Tom Otterness tootsie roll people. It's a masterpiece.
My daughter Emme, 14, wrote this for her school newsletter:
"The gates were a great way to give us a new perspective on an old park we love. New York needed a change, and the gates were the perfect addition. In the darkest of seasons, the park is now bright with this wonderful art."
At one point I decided we should treat this like an academic debate and switch sides. It's not like I love everything about what happened in February. But I don't care what it cost or earned, it was fun.
Oops. One last thing. About the color:
No, it wasn't the Tibetan buddhist saffron but it was exactly what they wanted. Twenty-six years is not exactly a rush job. It was loud and garish on purpose. I associate that color with India. In Mira Nair's failed film version of "Vanity Fair," it's that big Hindu wedding of the closing scene with the fluttering silk atop lumbering elephants.
Rob, it's been fun reading your impressions of the Gates, although Christo is still one of my very least favourite artists. A lot of people seem to have genuinely enjoyed the spectacle.
I've loved going to your blog and following all the links Bill supplied, especially the crackers. I will say this: I do hope The Gates was a one-time thing. If anything like it happens in the future, I'll feel like a moron. And Moody will never let me hear the end of it.
Meanwhile, an over-zealous policeman arrested a 25-year-old Italian tourist for putting a sticker advertising a website on one of the gates near Columbus Circle. The woman was charged with vandalism and spent the night in The Tombs, the notorious jail in Lower Manhattan. "It was an ugly experience," she said. "In America, there seems to be no distinction between big crimes and small crimes."
Jeanne-Claude: "It is a very big crime to interfere with OUR AESTHETIC."
"A lot of people seem to have genuinely enjoyed the spectacle."
- sally mckay 3-07-2005 1:31 pm
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