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Question: How did you conceive of The Gates?
Answer: Our aspiration to create a major public work
of art for New York began when we emigrated from Europe
in 1964. During the 1970s, while creating projects elsewhere
but continuing to live and work in New York, we remained
committed to succeeding in completing a major outdoor
work of art in the City. Our attention turned toward
the vast flow of people walking through the streets.
The resulting proposal was The Gates, a project
directly related to the human scale, to be sited in
Central Park, whose 843 acres are the ultimate locale
for walking at leisure. First proposed in 1979, The
Gates were then 12 feet tall, of a totally different
design, and the first drawing was titled The Thousand
Gates. The project was rejected in 1981 but ultimately
approved on January 22, 2003 by Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg,
for completion in February 2005.
Question: The Gates, like all of your work,
is temporary and public. Why do you choose to create
temporary public art?
Answer: The temporary quality of the projects is an
aesthetic decision. Our works are temporary in order
to endow the works of art with a feeling of urgency
to be seen, and the love and tenderness brought by the
fact that they will not last. Those feelings are usually
reserved for other temporary things such as childhood
and our own life. These are valued because we know that
they will not last. We want to offer this feeling of
love and tenderness to our works, as an added value
(dimension) and as an additional aesthetic quality.
Question: What is the best vantage point for appreciating
Answer: There is no particular special vantage point
to experience and enjoy walking under The Gates,
on 23 miles of walkways. The succession of 7,500 gates
moving capriciously in the wind, projecting on one another
at different levels, sometimes hiding the buildings
around the park, will reveal the serpentine design of
Question: How do the two of you divide your efforts
when approaching a project?
Answer: We do not divide our efforts, we do every thing
together, except three things:
We never fly in the same aircraft.
(Jeanne-Claude) does not make drawings; she was not
trained for that.
(Christo) puts our ideas on paper. He never had an
assistant in his studio; he even frames his drawings
(Christo) never had the pleasure of talking to our
Question: Why was it so important to realize this work
in Central Park?
Answer: When our son was a little boy, we used to take
him to Central Park every day—he loved to climb
the beautiful rocks. Central Park was a part of our
For more information about The Gates
and Christo and Jeanne-Claude please visit www.christojeanneclaude.net