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The Gates was the artwork by two artists together known as Christo and Jeanne-Claude. As a tandem of artists, Christo, whose full name is Christo Vladimirov Javacheff, and Jeanne-Claude created the works of art together since 1958. They are most well-known for their live installations that often reflected on the issues of the global environment and urban space (Baal-Teshuva 45). Christo and Jeanne-Claude famously worked in the live spaces, often creating their installations in the world’s biggest cities, including Berlin, Paris, and New York.
Gates is one of their environmental works that was installed in Central Park in New York. It was made from nearly seven and a half thousand fabric panels put one after another like dominos. The total of “7,503 gates spread out over 23 miles” through the lanes and paths of Central Park (”Central Park’s “Gates” Too Close This Weekend” par.3). All the other measurements of an enormous installation were impressive as well. The height of the fabric gates was 16 feet, whereas their width equaled from 5 feet 6 inches up to 18 feet, depending on the width of the paths where the gated were put. Even the fabric for the installation was specially designed for the occasion (“The Gates” par.3).
The artwork was available to see in February 2005. However, the official website of Christo and Jeanne-Claude makes a reference to the installation using the dates 1979–2005. The reason behind that is that the original idea of the project was articulated by Christo and Jeanne-Claude back in 1979, but it took twenty-five years for it to come true. Interestingly, it took a long time for the idea to mature, but at the same time, the test of endurance proved behind the installation there is an original conception of urban space rather than just a fad. When the installation was opened in February 2005, it became a subject to many debates (Grimes par.4). Given the plain, bleak, and grayish landscape of the winter in New York, many people greeted the appearance of the bright colors of The Gates. However, some other people did not find it fitting into the surroundings.
One of the reasons why The Gates caused controversy is perhaps the fact that in creating installations in the urban environment, there is always a risk of causing inconvenience to the people who live nearby. In the case of The Gates, placing the fabric panels onto the paths and walkways created concern and inconvenience for the public since the installation generated obstacles for all kinds of people going through Central Park. The cyclists, who could not use the paths in the park, considered it to be the dangerous obstructions (Tomkins par.2).
In terms of space interpretation, in this particular case, the functionality defeated Christo and Jeanne-Claude’s conceptual message. The artists tried not merely to liven the colors of the wintertime; the idea was to engage the urban space into art (Stokes 107). In the second case, the bright detail catches all the attention from the surroundings. However, Gates managed to emphasize the space around the installation.
In conclusion, Christo and Jeanne-Claude’ The Gates, despite being a bright spot on the bleak winter New York landscape, tried to engage the viewer into looking around without imposing anything. It is part of the bigger whole around it. Also, it changes together with the environment surrounding it because of the weather or people nearby, which means that it is not the same at every single moment. The installation was constantly morphing together with the urban world and tried capture the environment at each single moment.
Baal-Teshuva, Jacob. Christo and Jeanne-Claude. Cologne, Germany: Taschen, 2001. Print.
”Central Park’s “Gates” To Close This Weekend.” CNN, 2005. Web.
“The Gates.” Christo and Jeanne-Claude Projects, 2016. Web.
Grimes, William. “Jeanne-Claude, Christo’s Collaborator on Environmental Canvas, Is Dead at 74.” The New York Times, 2009. Web.
Stokes, Patricia D. “Using constraints to generate and sustain novelty.”Psychology of Aesthetics, Creativity, and the Arts 1.2 (2007): 107-109. Print.
Tomkins, Calvin. “The gates to the city: how the Christos plan to transform Central Park.” New Yorker, 2004. Web.