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The Gates - Environmental Art at Central Park

Aug 17, 2007
From February 12 to 27, 2005, Central Park exploded in a radiant orange as Christo and Jeanne-Claude unveiled their art installation, The Gates. The Gates was an exhibit of sorts that aimed to artistically interpret the bleak winter and its contrast with a vivid world.

What is The Gates

The Gates, or "The Gates, Central Park, New York, 1979 - 2005," is an artistic endeavor undertaken by the husband and wife tandem of Christo and Jeanne Claude. For two weeks, 7,503 metal 'gates,' lined 37 kilometers of the Center Park. From each gate hung an orange colored fabric.

Why Build such a Thing?

Before Central Park was built, the area where it now stands was a swampland that held little beauty. The builders of the park painstakingly built the park bit by bit - sending in for soil, transporting boulders, and planting every tree in the vicinity. When the project was completed, the only thing missing were the gates.

For years architects tried designing prospective gates for the park. Unfortunately, the original builders did not like the plans submitted to them since they seemed to be too sophisticated. So, since then, Central Park has never had proper gates to close the park after hours.

In 1979, Christo and Jeanne Claude started dreaming of putting up their own interpretation of what the gates at Central Park might look like. Both were artists of the highest degree, and both desired to create a unique work of art that would shock the people to see it.

Their works create entire environments. It doesn't matter whether they are rural or urban. The artworks they create on this scale do not last a long time, but the effects of these artworks certainly outlive the physical for of their art.

Those who have seen the art work of the duo report astonishment. Their art is said to amplify, present natural beauty in a different light: the wind blowing or the sun shining through their art.

Construction

The gates were constructed from 5,390 tons of steel, 96 kilometers of vinyl tubing and almost 100,000 sq. m. of fabric. The project was funded by the artists themselves. This was not because they could not find sponsors, because indeed many sponsors stepped forward.

The artists funded the art themselves because the believed that if other people sponsored the Gates, those people would have control over what direction the project took, and the couple did not want to be shackled by the whims of moneyed sponsors.

To fund the project the couple sold much of their previous artwork to fund the project. They even sold some of their designs for the Gate for that same purpose.

Opening

The project was officially opened on February 12, 2005, with New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg unfurling the first piece of fabric. The rest of The Gates opened to the curiosity of large crowds who struggled hard against each other just to take a peek at the Gates.

By February 13, all of the flags for the gates were unfurled.

The project staff remained at the park, watching and repairing the gates. One of the gates in particular, near the Shakespeare Garden in front of the Delacorte Theatre, was repeatedly vandalized and replaced.

When the exhibit closed on February 27, the gates and bases were removed. No permanent damage was sustained by the park. However, the impact of the art of the Gates may last for longer than most expect.
About the Author
James Monahan is the owner and Senior Editor of
GatesDepot.com and writes expert
articles about gates.
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