nonfiction nuggets…art on a grand scale

Christo and Jeanne-Claude: Through the Gates and Beyond, by Jan Greenberg and Sandra Jordan

If you lived in New York City in 2005, you could have gone to see the largest work of art ever created.  Wending their way through Central Park, were 7503 brilliant tangerine fabric panels, created and installed under the direction of Christo and Jeanne-Claude.  They called their installation, The Gates.

The Gates stretched for 23 miles, all around the big backyard of bustling NYC,  orange frames fitted with saffron nylon curtains, all ready to be released in one glorious burst of color on February 12, 2005, for a world-wide audience charged up with curiosity over something so…huge, so…unusual, so…inexplicable.  What would it be like?

Beyond the artists’ dreams, that’s what it was like.  Beyond the wildest expectations of untold numbers of people who flew in from around the globe to experience the strangely exhilarating, happy display.

This fascinating book tells the story of The Gates, from conception to realization to its ending, just 16 days after the unfurling of the draperies.  It also introduces us to this unique, husband-and-wife artistic team and a number of their other wildly inventive artworks around the globe.  The book ends with the glimmerings of their newest project along the Arkansas River in Colorado.  Although Jeanne-Claude has since died, Christo is still working towards this  — a silver, 40-mile-long tunnel.  You can find out more about it here.

Photographs of the entire, detailed, enormous process of producing this massive installation, as well as a number of their other curious, outsized, outdoor artworks, enliven the large pages of this book.   See magenta-encircled islands off Florida’s coast, a brilliant orange curtain stretching across a gap in the Colorado mountains, and a billowing white fence running for miles through the hills of Sonoma County, California.  I’m guessing, even though you may have difficulty wrapping your mind around this art, your kids will think it is quite exciting!  

Here’s an Amazon link:  Christo and Jeanne-Claude: Through the Gates and Beyond