Sunday, January 4, 2009

Christo and Jeanne-Claude: Through the Gates and Beyond by Jan Greenberg and Sandra Jordan (Roaring Brook, 2008)

Cindy: I made my first trek through Central Park just six months prior to the Gates installation and longed to return to see the saffron banners waving against the black trees and white snow. What a treat that must have been for the local folks to see their park transformed for a few short weeks. For those of us who missed it in person, this fabulous book by art biographers Greenberg and Jordan will more than do. The husband and wife team of Christo and Jeanne-Claude (born on the same day and year in separate countries) are the epitome of perseverance, working decades to get the necessary permission for their imaginative and original public art created on a truly grand scale. The book design is perfect, many photographs letting the art speak for itself as its creators do, and a fold-out spread helps to show the magnitude of the installations. As much as I would love a piece of that saffron fabric, I love the care the artists put into preserving the environments they are creating in, and recycling their materials as opposed to crass commericialization. Always controversial artists, you can put me in the fan column. I may have missed the Gates, but I'm sorely tempted to plan a family vacation to raft the Arkansas in Colorado in 2012 under the silvery fabric panels. Want to join me?
Lynn: When Cindy first wanted to find this book I was lukewarm. I knew it was Greenberg and Jordan whose books I really admire but I admit to not knowing much about Christo and Jeanne-Claude. I had a sort of vague negative impression gained from often scornful commentators and grainy newspaper photographs. Boy was I wrong! This book knocked my socks off and opened my eyes to these amazing artists. The stunning cover leads into a series of beautiful photographs that capture the amazing scale and impact of the art. The accompanying text is fascinating and conveys both the philosophy behind the art and the artists’ admirable perseverance and attention to detail. I had no idea that the artists fund their own work nor was I aware that they recycled all project materials. If this book has been in your maybe file, move it up to must buy! It is gorgeous, inspiring - and mind-changing.