selected works: christo & jeanne
Gagosian has launched an exhibition of sculptures and works on paper by Bulgarian artist Christo at the gallery in Basel. Selected Works is presented as part of Kunsttage Basel 2023, marking the twenty-fifth anniversary of artistic collaborators Christo and Jeanne-Claude’s last project in the city in 1998 when they wrapped 178 trees around the Fondation Beyeler in 55,000 sqm of woven polyester fabric. Renowned for their monumental temporary works, the duo effectively redefined the relationship between art and public space, expanding scale possibilities and transforming familiar landscapes. Often requiring extensive planning and negotiation, these self-funded projects existed only briefly, after which their materials were repurposed or recycled, and the sites restored to their original state. Christo: Selected Works presents an opportunity to revisit a unique canon of creative endeavors that transcends the conventional boundaries of sculpture and architecture.
Christo: Selected Works (2023) | installation view | all artworks © Christo and Jeanne-Claude Foundation
image © Annik Wetter, courtesy Gagosian
Running from August 25 until October 28, 2023, Christo: Selected Works at Gagosian (see more here) features the early sculptures Store Front (1964) and Store Front Corner (1964–66), both from the Store Fronts series (1964–1968), 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.
Wrapped Trees – Project for Fondation Beyeler & Berower Park, Riehen, Switzerland (1998) | graphite, charcoal, pastel, wax crayon, fabric sample, kraft paper, on paper, in 2 parts | 38 x 165 cm (top), 106.6 x 165 cm (bottom) | image © Wolfgang Volz, courtesy Christo and Jeanne-Claude Foundation & Gagosian
Also on view are several studies of 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 displayed pieces have been featured in major museum exhibitions.
Works on paper on view include Wrapped Reichstag (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.
installation view | image © Annik Wetter, courtesy Gagosian
Christo: Selected Works is part of Kunsttage Basel, a citywide program of art events at more than sixty museums, galleries, studios, exhibition rooms, and art institutions. Every year, for three days, around 55 institutions invite the interested audience to discover and experience the regional contemporary art scene. With its activities, the yearly art festival has been pursuing the goal of enabling the most threshold-free experience of art in Basel since 2020. ‘The art days organized annually offer casual encounters that are distributed decentrally, lure to unknown places and promote exchange. With the emphasis and recording of public spaces, the association also wants to specifically expand the circle of art worshipers, even for people who do not primarily deal with modern and contemporary art. The non-profit association Kunsttage focuses on exchange, reflection and cooperation in the areas of organization, communication and inclusion,’ shares Kunsttage Basel.
Store Front Corner (1964–66) | galvanized metal, aluminum, Plexiglas, Masonite, fabric, polyethylene, rope, paint, & electric light | image © Wolfgang Volz, courtesy Christo and Jeanne-Claude Foundation & Gagosian
The Umbrellas – project for Japan and USA (1987) | graphite, pastel, wax crayon, enamel paint, fabric & topographic map, on cardboard, in 2 parts | 30.5 x 77.5 cm (top), 66.7 x 77.5 cm (bottom) | image © Eeva-inkeri, courtesy Christo and Jeanne-Claude Foundation & Gagosian
installation view | image © Annik Wetter, courtesy GagosianGagosian exhibition galleryChristo and Jeanne-Claudehereartworksshares Kunsttage Basel.