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Over the River with Christo & Jeanne-Claude

- Abstract

The exhibit Christo and Jeanne-Claude: Over the River, A Work in Progress,1 on view at the Phillips Collection in Washington, D.C., through January 25, contains about 200 drawings, collages, and photographs documenting in painstaking detail the plan by the artists to suspend fabric sections horizontally over 5.9 miles of the Arkansas River in Colorado between, to quote the show’s catalogue, “mid-July and mid-August of any given year in the future, in 2012 at the earliest.”

Christo and Jeanne-Claude are, of course, world famous for their large-scale installations using man-made fabric. Some of the best known examples of their work include The Pont-Neuf Wrapped, Paris, 1975-85; Surrounded Islands, Biscayne Bay, Greater Miami, Florida, 1980-83; Wrapped Reichstag, Berlin, 1971-95; and most recently The Gates, Central Park, New York City, 1979-2005. Together since the late 1950’s, they have enjoyed an enduring and successful collaboration, both personally and commercially. The question of what their achievement represents artistically, however, remains open.

About the Author

Steven C. Munson’s contributions to COMMENTARY include “David Smith’s Vision” (May 2006) and “Inside the New MOMA” (February 2005).