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One way the Christos' latest work might be successful: If each of those proscenium/gate things placed at regular intervals along Central Park walkways served as an obstacle to movement rather than something you walk through. In other words, if instead of flapping aesthetically over parkgoers' heads, the nylon curtains hanging from the gates were lowered completely, anchored to the ground, forcing people to walk around them or physically rip through them to traverse the park. Thus you would have the pure, condensed hostility of Richard Serra's Tilted Arc, which hampered movement across a public plaza, but with the irony of a bright "joyous" color and billowy nylon fabric. People would be angry, the park would be in turmoil until the piece could be removed, and everyone would be talking about it for years, instead of the Christos getting a mere two weeks of ego-gratification and the big Michael Kimmelman thumbs-up.

UPDATE: The nylon "Gates" swatches selling on eBay originally had some "authorized by the Christos" language that has since been removed, so I took out a parenthetical about the couple selling their wares online. Should have known that was too good to be true. In the comments to this post we're discussing what they're actually going to do with all that fabric.

UPDATE 2: This is one of those rare instances where the kneejerk philistinism of the New York Post converges with the highfalutin' critical opinion (mine--but I'm sure there are others) that the Christos are phony or dumbed down conceptualists. They are really the ultimate middlebrow art. From Andrea Peyser's column:
The artists seemed cute and quirky enough. And the mayor was positively giddy about it. That should have been the kiss of doom.

Now I realize we all were pulled into a kind of mass hysteria orchestrated by a couple of charismatic snake-oil salesmen--also known as the artists Christo and Jeanne-Claude--and their pretentious booster, Mayor Bloomberg.

"The Gates" is an abomination. Call me a Philistine, but how can one improve on trees, lakes and rocky outcroppings with miles of plastic-treated cloth?

It's enough of a sin that "The Gates" overpowers Central Park's soaring, hypnotic beauty. But the color of these bed sheets, plunked down on metal frames every 12 feet throughout the park, is so atrocious that the project's creators ought to be charged with assault.

Christo and Jeanne-Claude claim that the hue of the weirdly pleated cloth is "saffron." But, as any American junior-high-school kid will tell you, the precise shade is "vomit orange."

"I can't get over how much it looks like an advertisement for Home Depot," said a laughing auxiliary cop I ran into.

And he said he actually liked them.
UPDATE 3: Hate to keep harping on those fools in the park, but the Christos' arguable past contribution to the history of art is the extension of conceptual (specifically earthwork) practice to include negotiation and logistics, and navigating local bureaucracies and landowners as art. The running fence itself wasn't very interesting--it was the point of what the artist had to do vis a vis obstinate property rights to make art happen that was a new concept 30 years ago. But to go from all the work Christo did to get the fence built to "convincing Mayor Bloomberg" is just a serious fall from grace.

- tom moody 2-13-2005 9:13 pm [link]