CHRISTO AND JEANNE-CLAUDE, ON THE WAY TO THE GATES: Central Park, New York City

Jonathan Fineberg, Author, Wolfgang Volz, Photographer
Jonathan Fineberg, Author, Wolfgang Volz, Photographer . Yale Univ./Metropolitan Museum of Art $65 (212p) ISBN 978-0-300-10138-6
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Christo and Jeanne-Claude, the artists responsible for such memorable wrapped pieces as "Surrounded Islands" (bright pink fabric floating around 11 islands in Biscayne Bay in Florida), and "Running Fence" (2.3 million square feet of fabric stretching down to the ocean in Sonoma and Marin counties in California), have been planning a major piece in New York City since they arrived in 1964. Unfortunately, their ideas, which included wrapping the Museum of Modern Art, were continually stymied both by private owners and the city. In near-giddy anticipation, this book from art historian Fineberg (The Innocent Eye ) offers 50 b&w and 160 lush color illustrations, meticulously and compellingly contextualized, of the 7,500 saffron-colored vinyl panels they plan to suspend along the walkways of New York's Central Park in February 2005. First conceived in 1979, it will be the pair's first completed New York project. The catalogue, which accompanies an exhibition of the artists' work at the Metropolitan Museum, is almost a sociological text in how public art gets made—or, more often, not made. Four interviews ranging from 1979 to 2003, photographs of meetings with city officials and community boards, extensive biographical and critical background, as well as plans, maps, beautiful drawings of the Gates and photographs of their construction expose poignantly how grand artistic ideas are transformed by the long trek toward realization. In one interview, Christo says, "One of the lowest objections was that I am a communist spy and the Fence will be used as intercontinental missile targets." (May)

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