artist / participant
From June 4th to November 27th 2016, Christo will create a sculpture of a monumental Mastaba that will redefine the scale of the Giacometti courtyard and, more generally, the architecture and gardens designed by Josep Lluίs Sert.
The Mastaba at the Maeght Foundation will be 9 meters high, 17 meters long and 9 meters wide. The spectator will experience a dramatic confrontation with the sculpture, first with its form and color and then with the work’s rhythms, space, and duration. For nearly 50 years, Christo and Jeanne-Claude have dreamed of this confrontation. The story of this dream is rich with meaning and reveals an artistic history marked by continuity and tenacity with projects they have developed over many decades. Conceived by the artists in the late 1960’s, the idea for the Maeght Mastaba project can be seen on display in two early preparatory works by Christo. Since its inception, the artwork has been extensively reworked and revisited. Christo and Jeanne-Claude were first shown at the Maeght Foundation in 1985 with an exhibition on the artists’ temporary artwork, the Surrounded Islands, Biscayne Bay, Greater Miami, Florida 1980-1983.
In this new exhibition, Christo has chosen to focus on another aspect of their artwork – their work dealing with oil barrels. What started as sculptures of barrel structures grew into projects such as Christo and Jeanne-Claude’s 1962 work Wall of Oil Barrels, barrel installations in different urban environments and the monumental Mastaba, intended for the desert in Abu Dhabi.
The sculptures, installations, preparatory works, scale models, photographs, and films on exhibit will trace several decades of their work, from Christo’s early works to his preparatory works for Christo and Jeanne-Claude’s Mastaba of Abu Dhabi. Christo’s 1958 sculptures, Wrapped Cans, seem to hint at Christo and Jeanne-Claude’s future and much larger indoor and outdoor oil barrel structures, creations that engage in and reveal aspects of city life. The locations, dimensions and colors of these barrel sculptures also exhibit the artists’ incredible will to intervene in the urban, industrial and natural spaces of society.
This artistic confrontation can be seen in Christo and Jeanne-Claude’s 1962 work, Wall of Oil Barrels, a wall constructed with oil barrels that blocked off the Rue Visconti in Paris. Having fled the oppressions of communist Bulgaria, the Wall, which transformed the space, could be seen to signify Christo’s response to the Berlin Wall. This work and Christo and Jeanne-Claude’s future barrel sculptures would redefine public spaces and seem to give off an enigmatic sense of a meeting of the contemporary world and its tools with the poetry and symbolism of the past.
Christo and Jeanne-Claude tell us the truth about the industrial world, all while diverting it, disturbing it and stimulating our freedoms of observation and interpretation. By confrontation or concealment, they expressly choose the places where they “assign” new meaning.
Considering this context, the Mastaba seems to ask questions about the sacred and about power; it seems to address the poetics of space just as much as it considers the physicality of materials. During the exhibition, a room will be dedicated to the radical project, the Mastaba of Abu Dhabi, and the exhibit will culminate in the presentation of the Mastaba in the Giacometti courtyard at the Maeght Foundation. This Mastaba, in conversation with Sert’s architecture as well as with the beauty of the sky, the pine trees and the natural environment, will be a part of a presentation that promises to be a unique experience.