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11 / The Urban Experience

The Gates, Project for Central Park, New York
The Gates, Project for Central Park, New York
Artist / Origin Christo (American, Bulgarian-born, b. 1935) and Jeanne-Claude (American, French-born, 1935-2009)
Region: North America
Date 1979–2005
Material Vinyl poles, nylon fabric, and metal bases
Dimensions H: 16 ft. (4.8 m.) (each gate)
Location New York, NY (temporary installation)
Credit © Alan Schein Photography/CORBIS

expert perspective

Anne PasternakPresident and Artistic Director, Creative Time

Additional Resources

Christo and Jeanne-Claude Web site. http://www.christojeanneclaude.net.

Fineberg, Jonathan. On the Way to the Gates, Central Park, New York City (Metropolitan Museum of Art Series). Photography by Wolfgang Volz. New Haven: Yale University Press in association with the Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2005.

Fineberg, Jonathan. Art Since 1940: Strategies of Being, 2nd ed. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall, 2000.

Finkelpearl, Tom. Dialogues in Public Art. Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press, 2001.

Knight, Cher Krauss. Public Art: Theory, Practice, and Populism. Hoboken, NJ: Wiley-Blackwell, 2008.

Ronte, Dieter. Christo and Jeanne-Claude: International Projects. London: Philip Wilson Publishers, 2004.

The Gates, Project for Central Park, New York

» Christo (American, Bulgarian-born, b. 1935) and Jeanne-Claude (American, French-born, 1935-2009)

The collaborative artistic team Christo and Jeanne-Claude have been working together on public art projects since 1961.

They consider themselves to be environmental artists, creating extremely large-scale projects in both urban and rural locations. Their past projects have included such feats as stringing an orange curtain across a mountain pass in Colorado in 1972 and surrounding eleven islands in Miami’s Biscayne Bay with pink fabric in 1983. The pair’s visually dramatic projects require elaborate planning and have taken as many as two decades to carry out from design to execution. Christo and Jeanne-Claude work with all levels of government agencies and myriad local groups and individuals to organize and get permission for their installations. However, they insist on total artistic control and refuse any sponsorship, choosing instead to self-fund their projects.

The artists began planning The Gates in 1979, but did not reach an agreement with New York City to install them until 2003. The Gates were on view in Central Park for two weeks at the end of February 2005. Like many of the artists’ projects, the installation was a vast undertaking. Seven thousand five hundred and three individual gates consisting of saffron-colored vinyl poles and nylon fabric were set up along twenty-three miles of pathways through the park, lending vivid color to the subdued winter landscape. The gates were designed to rest on the pavement, leaving no impact on the natural environment of the park—not even holes in the ground. Christo and Jeanne-Claude were particularly sensitive to the urban park setting. They have described the square, right-angled poles as referring to the grid of city streets surrounding the park. In contrast, they saw the loose-hanging fabric moving fluidly in the wind as evoking the curved park walkways and the bare tree branches.

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