Friday, March 30, 2012

Christo & Jeanne Claude

                            THE ARTIST WHO WRAPS

                       Wrapped Coast by Christo and Jeanne Claude
                            One Million Square Feet, Little Bay, Sydney, Australia, 1968-69

Shall answer the questions posted to us first. (:

1) Christo and Jean-Claude’s work is highly unique. How would you describe this artwork to one of your peers? Use art specific vocabulary, as well as adjectives to anwser.

This work is one that defies the notion of conventional/traditional art. It is a site-specific installation.  The most striking thing about the artwork is the scale: one entire coast is the artwork itself! It is an artwork that is temporary as the coast was only wrapped for a period of ten weeks. So photography is another important medium as it captures the work and allows us to view the work long after the work is dismantled.

The cloth is white and opague, so the details of the coast are concealed and only the shape and form is left for us to see. This brings out the importance of the shape and size of the work. The work consists of monochromatic colours, mainly due to the white fabric and dark shadows. Tonal variation can also be found in the work as the shadows can be of a different shade of grey as the shadows casted depends on the sun's position. As the day progresses, the sun's position will change and the shadows will alter according to the sun. To fully experience the changes of the artwork, we have to be physically there, to see the artwork with our own eyes. White is also a colour that reflects other colours, so if different coloured lights are shone on it, it will reflect the particular colour accordingly.

Lines are also present in the artwork, although they are unnoticed by many. The different folds of the fabric can mould the form of the coast, contributing to the contours of the artwork. The folds can also be lines themselves. The shadows due to the folding of the fabric create the illusion of lines in the work. This is contributes to the presence of both horizontal lines and vertical lines in the art piece.  Lines are also formed by the ropes tying the fabric to the coast. There is also a distinguished "line" to separate the wrapped coast from the unwrapped coast, which creates the contrast between white fabric and the dark coloured coast. Another "abstract" line will be the perspective line.

As for the shape of the artwork, it is quite ambiguous as it is a combination of different shapes(mostly angular shapes with sharp edges). The defined shapes remind me of Cubism, where geometric shapes are the emphasis. Shape is definitely an important element in this work, as the shape is more defined due to the fabric being monochrome in colour. There is also a homogenous texture to the work. The work is crafted in such a way that the fabric hangs over the coast, giving it a flowing effect, giving it a certain fluidty.

Overall, this is an art piece that is a very unique piece, and it is also a controversial one. It challenges the notion of art. It is also quite environmental friendly too, as the fabric is recycled at the end of this whole project.

2) In your own words, what is the subject matter of the “Wrapped Coast”? What was the purpose of creating such a monumental work?

I think that the subject matter of the work is the coast itself, and how the appearance of the coast has been morphed after being wrapped by the cloth. By creating such a monumental work, it really stands out from other artworks as most artworks are placed in the museums and people just have to go to the museums to see them. However, as an entire coast is the artwork and it is site-specific, people have to make a special trip down to the coast to experience the whole artwork. Creating such a monumental piece also allows the viewers to interact with the artwork as viewing it from different angles, under different weather can change the aesthetic quality of the whole work. For example, viewing the artwork in the day is different from viewing it at night. Another thing about a monumental work is the size of it, as the huge size can bring out the dynamism of the artwork.

                                     PERSONAL FEELINGS TOWARDS CHRISTO
Christo is an artist who is very dedicated to his art making. He has to be specific and do his measurements carefully in order to make this work. This is carried out in the form of preparatory sketches, which shows that the planning process is very important. We should always plan before excuting our plan. For example, we should do enough prep work before starting on our coursework final piece...  Even though the work may seem effortless to create, but people often neglect the prep works that the artist does before working on the final. Christo is also an artist that is highly original. Quoted from Paul Gauguin: "Art is either plagiarism or revolution." Christo's works is definitely revolutionary and controversial, but the bravery to do something different from other art is very commendable.
In my opinion, I feel that black and white photos capture the true essence of his work. I think that the most interesting idea of this work is that it plays around with shadows. So though black and white photos, the importance of shadows is highlighted as our eyes are not distracted by colour. The tonal contrast between shadows and lighted areas is more obvious. In the photo on the left, we can observe that the shadows have different degree of darkness and the way that the cloth drapes over the forms is really fascinating. We can see each fold clearly, each shadow is captured with a different hue. As for the second photograph, the work looks like a waterfall!

However, a coloured picture is also nice in its own way. It shows the contrast between the artwork and its surroundings(the clear blue sky).


Wrapped Cans and Bottles, 1958/1959

Every artist has a starting point.The wrapping of small daily objects such as cans and bottles inspired him to continue to wrap different things, to explore the wonders of different surfaces and textures. Even though this work is not as monumental as most of his other works, I felt that this was important as this triggered the "artistic spark" in Christo, which led to him wrapping other stuff and eventually, wrapping large scaled buildings. This work may be insignificant in most people's eyes, but I felt that this was the crucial step that Christo took towards his artistic career.

                                                            Wrapped Trees, 1997-1998
This is an ordinary subject matter. But Christo transforms the ordinary into something special, just by wrapping them. Trees like this can go unnoticed as they are just like what we see everyday, but wrapped trees are something that captures people's attention.

Christo's forte is to create artworks of a larger scale, creating the biggest art pieces in art history.

                                                   The Umbrellas, Japan-USA, 1984-91

(This shows that he not only wraps things. His art is always situated outdoors and they are site-specific)

Wrapped Reichstag, Berlin, 1971-95

This shows that the impact of his works can be altered with different lighting.

Wrapping Reichstag reminds me of another work by Jenny Holzer, a conceptual artist! Both works are similar: buildings are turned into art by covering them with something.

For the City - Jenny Holzer (2006)


Collaboration with Tze She!
Materials used inclue: Cling Wrap, Rock, Snail Shell, Grass (and railing in NYGH)

So these photos show our wrapping process:

Experimenting with composition of objects...

                             Beginning to wrap after confirming the positions of various objects.

                                                             & WRAPPING IS DONE! (:

Like Christo's work, this work cannot be permanent as I guess that any other NY girl who walks pass it will kind of get a shock to see something wrapped there. So we had to unwrap it. ): When unwrapping it, we realised that the objects became loose from their fixed positions and kind of fell or the railing, only to be suspended by the cling wrap. (: It is a nice effect! (: Like a mother carrying a baby.

Ok, I shall now offer the interpretations for our work.(: It may be different from Tze She's.

I guess the main theme of our work is the juxtaposition of the natural and the man-made, similar to Montien Boonma's Water Buffaloes from Field to Town:

The objects that we have wrapped are natural, but they are wrapped on man-made bars, with man-made cling wrap. So there is the contrast of the manufactored and the natural. Well, after the objects are wrapped on the bars, the several layers of the cling wrap actually concealed the details of the object(as the layers of cling wrap is translucent). Therefore, the form and shape of the objects are further emphasised, like Christo's work. In Christo's work, the coast is covered with opague cloth, so we cannot see the coast itself, but we can see the overall shape of it and how the cloth drapes over the different forms. In our work, even though the objects can still be made out(as the cling wrap is not opague), the different forms of the objects have morphed into one after being wrapped. In my opinion, the wrapped objects look like a shoe because we wrapped them as a whole and not as individual objects.

MEANING OF OUR WORK: In my opinion, I think that our work is trying to convey the message of how modernisation has impacted our world. Firstly, the manufactored cling wrap is covering the natural objects, which shows domination of the man-made over the natural. The metal bars are actually slanting downwards, which shows that nature is suffering and natual resources are decreasing due to demolishing and excessive usage of them. This symbolises that due to rapid urbanisation, we have destroyed nature. For example, to create new space for buildings, we carry out deforestation. We are so focused on the advancement of our human race that we have forgotten to take care of mother nature and we are demolishing nature.In the future, will nature be taken over by us? Will it be concealed by us? I hope not. Nature is beautiful, nature itself is a form of art. So we should take little measures in an attempt to save nature - reduce, reuse and recycle.

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