Bulgarian artist Christo enchants audience with his art

Imagine a river covered with cloth, spanning 42 miles of the Colorado River, or a tower as high as the Great Pyramid of Giza made out of barrels in the desert outside of Abu Dhabi.

“They’re totally irrational. They’re totally useless,” Christo said in reference to his artwork. Yet perhaps this is what makes them so special.

For an hour and a half Tuesday night, Bulgarian artist Christo enchanted his Georgetown audience with pictures and stories of his upcoming works of art that can only be seen to be believed.

Christo’s art is certainly unique. He is best known for covering buildings, sculptures, trees, land, and water all in fabric—and nothing else. These colossal forms covered in the simplicity of cloth are both beautiful and mesmerizing.

The Belgian artist started off his talk showing pictures of his umbrella project from 1991. More than 1700 yellow umbrellas were set up in southern California and 1300 blue umbrellas were put in Japan.  “[It is] very much like a classical painting,” Christo said, attributing this to its contrast between two distinct cultures. He then went on to explain the long journey towards wrapping the Reichstag, a prominent and historic building in Germany.

This type of work may seem simple, but it requires a lot of technical engineering and workforce. Before the art even becomes visible, Christo and his wife, who died six years ago but was an integral part of his life and art, have to meet with government officials to get permission for their exhibitions.

Christo also makes an effort to meet with locals because for him, this work is more than just art. “It is an enchanting experience of human relations,” he said.

When asked about his life outside of his art, Christo said, “Being an artist is not a profession, it’s an existence.” He does not claim to be making any statement with his art. Although this claim may frustrate some people, for Christo this is what makes his art so powerful.

His work is usually on display for less than a month, but this temporal existence of this art is important to Chriso. “They exist in a freedom that no one can buy,” he said in reference to his art.

Photo: Ed G via flickr

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