Christo exhibition at Gagosian Basel marks the 25th Anniversary of 'Wrapped Trees' at Fondation Beyeler

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Christo exhibition at Gagosian Basel marks the 25th Anniversary of 'Wrapped Trees' at Fondation Beyeler
Christo, The Umbrellas (Project for Japan and USA), 1987. Graphite, pastel, wax crayon, enamel paint, fabric, and topographic map, on cardboard, in 2 parts. Top: 12 x 30 1/2 inches (30.5 x 77.5 cm), Bottom: 26 1/4 x 30 1/2 inches (66.7 x 77.5 cm). © Christo and Jeanne-Claude Foundation. Photo: Eeva-inkeri. Courtesy Christo and Jeanne-Claude Foundation and Gagosian.

BASEL.- Gagosian has announced about an exhibition of sculptures and works on paper by Christo at the gallery in Basel. Selected Works, which is presented as part of Kunsttage Basel, marks the twenty-fifth anniversary of Christo and Jeanne-Claude’s last project in the city in 1998, when they wrapped 178 trees around the Fondation Beyeler in 55,000 square meters of woven polyester fabric.

Renowned for their monumental temporary works, artistic collaborators Christo and Jeanne-Claude effectively redefined the relationship between art and public space, expanding the possibilities of scale and transforming familiar landscapes. Often requiring extensive planning and negotiation, these self-funded projects existed only for brief periods, after which their materials were repurposed or recycled, and the sites restored to their original state. Selected Works presents an opportunity to revisit a unique canon of creative endeavors that transcends the conventional boundaries of sculpture and architecture.

The exhibition features the early sculptures Store Front, Project (1964) and Store Front Corner (1965), both from the Store Fronts series (1964–68), in which Christo made use of salvaged architectural elements resembling shop windows, lining their glass panels with paper or fabric to obstruct the view inside. Complementing these works in Basel is Show Case (Vitrine), a related sculpture from 1963 that employs a tall painted metal vitrine on casters, its interior similarly veiled by hanging white fabric and illuminated by electric light. Preceding the artists’ public projects, these foundational works find Christo already responding creatively to the everyday built environment.

Also on view are several studies for Christo and Jeanne-Claude’s renowned site-specific artworks. Featuring detailed original drawings in charcoal, enamel, pastel, pencil, and wax crayon, these highly evocative works often incorporate additional elements such as photographs, fabric samples, handwritten notes, and topographic maps to convey a range of technical information, thereby combining preparatory, documentary, and expressive functions. Several of the examples on display have been featured in major museum exhibitions.

Works on paper on view in Basel include Wrapped Reichstag (Project for Berlin) (1987) and two drawings titled Running Fence (Project for Sonoma County and Marin County, State of California), one from 1974, the other from 1976—the latter pair representing a temporary project on which Larry Gagosian worked as a construction assistant in 1976. The Floating Piers (Project for Lake lseo, Italy), a large drawing from 2015, plots one of Christo’s final public undertakings, a 3-kilometer (1.9-mile) walkway that attracted more than 1.2 million visitors over its sixteen-day run in 2016.
Christo and Jeanne-Claude were born on the same day: June 13, 1935; he in Gabrovo, Bulgaria, and she in Casablanca, Morocco. Jeanne-Claude passed away in 2009, and Christo died in 2020, both in New York City, where they had moved in 1964. Christo and Jeanne-Claude realized monumental projects around the world, including Wrapped Coast, One Million Square Feet, Little Bay, Sydney, 1968–69; Running Fence, Sonoma and Marin Counties, California, 1972–76; Surrounded Islands, Biscayne Bay, Greater Miami, Florida, 1980–83; The Pont Neuf Wrapped, Paris, 1975–85; The Umbrellas, Japan–USA, 1984–91; Wrapped Reichstag, Berlin, 1971–95; The Gates, Central Park, New York City, 1979–2005; The Floating Piers, Lake Iseo, Italy, 2014–16; The London Mastaba, Serpentine Lake, Hyde Park, 2016–18; and L’Arc de Triomphe, Wrapped, Paris, 1961–2021.

Christo and Jeanne-Claude worked together since their first outdoor temporary work of art: Stacked Oil Barrels and Dockside Packages, Cologne Harbor, Germany, 1961. Before he escaped to the West, Christo studied painting, sculpture, architecture, and decorative arts at the National Academy of Art in Sofia for four years. All early series, such as Wrapped Cans, Wrapped Oil Barrels, Packages, Wrapped Objects, and Store Fronts, as well as all preparatory drawings, collages, and scale models are works by Christo only. All public projects and indoor installations, both realized and unrealized, are collaborative works by Christo and Jeanne-Claude.

Gagosian Basel
Christo: Selected Works
August 25th, 2023 - October 28th, 2023
Opening reception: Friday, August 25, 6–8pm

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