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Sculptors Contrast: Christo and Andy Goldsworthy Essay

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Updated: Mar 16th, 2020

The art of installation may be very difficult to percept and understand (Understanding Installation Art, par. 1). This kind of art can be very mobile, very changeable, or very abstract and silent. In most cases, the artworks made in this genre have more than one purpose or goal; they are designed to be multi-layered and have deep meanings. The viewer with good imagination and philosophical mind, a thinker, is going to enjoy these artworks.

At the same time, a person unfamiliar with abstract art, a stream of associations and expressionism is most likely to be confused by the art of installation. Such works will not make sense for this type of viewer. The viewer will be frustrated and find the art of installation and abstractionism a pointless occupation.

The works of Christo and Andy Goldsworthy are made in the genres of expressionism, abstractionism; these artists are the representatives of the installation art. Both artists are known for their powerful thought and unusual ideas for their works.

Their ability to find the most unusual and unexpected sides of the simplest objects, see the edges and motions most people do not notice is truly admirable to me. These artists did not just have a very special view on the world around; they also managed to find ways to share their ideas, make others see what was available only to their artistic, talented eyes.

Christo’s project, called “Running Fence” was a big cultural event in the 70s. It was a massive plan, involving many people, professionals of many various spheres. The project first caused the wave of admiration and excitement, and then it turned into a wave of protests and criticism.

Christo and the team of professionals helping him put his idea into action were strong and overcame all the difficulties and problems to present the final result of the project and let everyone enjoy this enormous installation. A big group of people worked day and night for the sake of one very special and very impressive artwork to become available for the public view. In total, the work on Christo’s Running Fence lasted for forty-two months.

Its installation caused multiple public hearings and the Superior Court sessions (Running Fence, par. 2). Since the project was so massive, it required the agreement between the team of installers, the authors of the project and the owners of the lands where the sculpture was intended to be put. The installation had been exhibited for two weeks, after that it was removed. The long and high fence ran through the hills and was bent in various shapes and angles.

It was made of white fabric, stretched between the poles so that the wind could move it and create interesting shapes. On the panoramic views, the fence reminds of the Great Wall of China. It is a wavy line, full of turns and twists, climbing up the hills and sliding down them. The fence and the nature around it –the ground, the sky, the wind, and the clouds are working together, compiling parts of the installation.

This is why Christo made his Fence so long – it had to be spread for miles to be able to capture all the amazing features of the landscape it occupied. The same fence could be photographed in different areas and be looking very different in each picture.

The special feature of this sculpture is that it is very simple – it depicts the behavior of white fabric in the sun and the wind – but with the talented approach applied to this fabric, the simple object turns into a masterpiece.

The works by Andy Goldsworthy are site-specific sculptures made of natural objects and materials. This talented artist says that he takes his inspiration from the rivers and water in general; this is why his project is called “Rivers and Tides.” The artist takes what nature has to share and transforms it according to his fantastic ideas and views. Creating his pieces, Andy Goldsworthy has to take into account many forces of nature.

He tries to make them all work in one sculpture – the materials, the movement of the wind, water and waves, sunlight, and time of the day – to make the sculpture look harmonious. The fact that Goldsworthy only uses natural materials such as sticks, tree branches and leaves, ice, and rocks, adds mystery to his sculptures.

The natural installations by Goldsworthy do not last long, undergoing the forces of nature they blossom and then go into decay, like everything in nature does, so when they are slowly taken apart by the wind, or waves, or air, it looks peaceful and natural. Goldsworthy says, “it does not feel at all like destruction” (Dampflanze).

The artist’s imagination is truly incredible; his creations are varied in sizes and shapes; he uses many different objects, creates amazing shapes and images. Time is a very significant theme of Goldsworthy’s sculptures. They all are made of materials that do not have much time to live; the artist includes a silent message into his works, this message is that true beauty fades over time, and this is what makes it so exceptionally valuable.

The similarities between the two artists are that both of them were inspired by nature and its changeability before creating their masterpieces. Christo and Goldsworthy are big admirers of the natural environment, and shapes mother-nature can produce. The forces of nature are the main part of the works of both sculptors.

Besides, a wavy, tricky, and asymmetric line is one of the main patterns in both “Rivers and Tides” and “Running Fence.” In the photographs taken from the helicopter, the Fence by Christo also resembles a natural stream of water. Finally, the creations of both authors did not live lives.

The differences between the two artists are that Christo used technical approach to show the forces of nature, while Goldsworthy works mainly with the natural objects. Besides, the Fence by Christo was monumental, large and long. The masterpieces of Goldsworthy are normally more compact, not global.

Christo chose a very massive yet rather simplistic approach, building his Fence. Goldsworthy’s works are always variations of shapes, structures, motion, and colors. Christo was working together with a crowd of helpers, while Goldsworthy work,s alone, with minor help from his cameraman.

For me, the film “Rivers and Tides” was more impressive than “Running Fence.” I have enjoyed the beauty of balance in Goldsworthy’s fragile sculptures and their dramatic edge (Rivers and Tides: Andy Goldsworthy working with time, par. 2). I was touched deeply by his works, and I am now a sincere admirer of this artist’s talent and approach.

The film made me feel delighted and serene. I was mesmerized by the magical effect the components of this film had on me. The harmony of quiet meditative music, the artist’s philosophical revelations, his amazing, complicated sculptures are very inspiring.

In conclusion, I would like to notice that the works of both artists are ingenious because they are so simple. To my mind, the true masterpieces have one trait in common – looking at them the viewers ask themselves one question – “how come I have never thought of doing this?” – the feeling that makes everyone wonder why something so simple has never occurred to them before is the sign of the author’s true and special talent.

Works Cited

Dampflanze. “Rivers and Tides”. Online video clip. YouTube. YouTube, 10 Dec. 2013. Web. 11 Apr. 2014.

Rivers and Tides: Andy Goldsworthy working with time. Riversandtides. 2003. Web. 11 Apr. 2014. <http://www.riversandtides.co.uk/>

Running Fence. Christo and Jeanne-Claude. 2013. Web. 11 Apr. 2014. <http://christojeanneclaude.net/projects/running-fence?view=info#.U0g8tVV_saA>

Understanding Installation Art. Dummies. 2014. Web. 11 Apr. 2014. <http://www.dummies.com/how-to/content/understanding-installation-art.html>

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IvyPanda. 2020. "Sculptors Contrast: Christo and Andy Goldsworthy." March 16, 2020. https://ivypanda.com/essays/sculptors-contrast-christo-and-andy-goldsworthy/.

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IvyPanda. (2020) 'Sculptors Contrast: Christo and Andy Goldsworthy'. 16 March.

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