Christo and Jeanne-Claude

art wankers or theorists of concealment?

I’ve never been too enthusiastic about the work these two have done. They’re the ones who do environmental art: they covered the whole German Reichstag in silver cloth. They installed all those umbrellas in California and Japan. They wrapped a bunch of trees in Switzerland, etc.

However, looking at the large photos of their works, and then at the preliminary sketches and proposals for various projects completed and not yet (if ever) realized, I myself realized that art that works with concealment poses some interesting questions, like: When a tree is wrapped, or when a sweeping valley vista is blocked by a huge curtain, or when large stretches of the Colorado River are covered in cloth, what do you observe instead of the object concealed? What new part of the landscape do you note when the most obvious focus for a gaze is diverted? To where does the concealment lead the eye? And what do you think, know or remember about the object now concealed? And does the eye now see what it didn’t see before, or does it still see only its own version of the totality, of which it will never capture the whole?

OK. So they’re art wankers, and now they’ve turned me into one, if only for a paragraph. But that’s not all bad. —FC