Mental Floss (July-August 2011) has an article on the awesome art of “Christo and Jeanne-Claude.” Their pieces are large, imposing, and environmentally-based. Some examples are:
1) The Umbrella (1991)–Installed 3,100 umbrellas across a 12-mile stretch in California and an 18-mile stretch in Japan.”
2) The Gates (2005)–Erected “7,503 steel gates, each with a giant rectangle of orange fabric flowing from it.”
3) Surrounded Islands (1983)–“Surrounded 11 uninhabited islands in Biscayne Bay with 700,000 square yards of pink fabric.”
4) Wrapped Reichstag (1995)–Wrapped the German parliament in “119,600 square yards of shimmering silver fabric.”
What I like about their art is the duality of on one hand, magnitude of the projects–they are huge!–and on the other hand, the utter simplicity of it–such as using a single color fabric to just line up along, spread over, or surround something.
Further, I really like their use of contrasts whether it is the colors of the blue water and green islands with the pink ribbon or the lush green valley with the blue umbrellas–it is in every case dynamic and spell-binding.
Each work even in a microcosm would be beautiful, but when done on a massive scale like with the entire German Parliament building or on multiple continents simultaneously, it takes on an air of magic, almost like Houdini.
Jeanne-Claude passed away in 2009, but together she and Christo created “20 gargantuan works of art, and Christo carries on the “couples’s 45 years of collaboration” with new works today.
To me, Christo and Jeanne-Claude are incredibly inspirational:
1) They were highly productive and developed a multitude of magnificent works of art.
2) They defined a sense of beauty in both urban and rural settings that combined the natural surroundings and augmented it with human interventions to complete the creative process.
3) They took on monumental tasks, “funded all the projects themselves,” and would obsessively plan all the details to get it right.
4) The were truly collaborative–Christo was the artist and Jeanne-Claude his encouragement and manager, yet they considered each other “equal partners in the creative process.”
Their work reminds me of floating in virtual reality like in Second Life, but in this case, it’s the real thing. And it’s incredibly important because it teaches us that we are partners in the creative process and can do enormously great things in simple and beautiful ways. Similarly, true leadership is about being one with our surroundings, at peace, and yet envisioning how to improve on it and make the good things, spectacular.
(Source Photos of Umbrella and Gates: Wikipedia, and of Islands and Reichstag: Here)