In a larger than life preview of what is to be the permanent Mastaba somewhere in the desert of the UAE, London can now marvel at the multi-colored barrels that form a mosaic of bright sparkling colors, echoing Islamic architecture in this summer ‘s most eagerly anticipated art experience.
Photography Courtesy of Christo and Jeanne Claude
yde Park is as iconic and loved as the artists that will grace its famous Serpentine Gallery and its lake – a place usually inhabited by royal swans and swimmers. In a otherworldly intervention of startling visual effect The Mastaba, or the pyramid as the ancient Egyptians used to call the structured, will float on the Serpentine Lake from 18 June to 23 September 2018. This will be the Christo’s first major public, outdoor work in the UK. The temporary sculpture will coincide with an exhibition at the Serpentine Galleries of Christo and Jeanne–Claude’s work from 19 June to 9 September 2018, which will include sculptures, drawings, collages and photographs spanning more than 60 years. Both projects draw on Christo and Jeanne-Claude’s history of barrel artworks and will be an unprecedented opportunity for visitors to experience the work of one of the most pioneering artists working today.
Christo’s temporary structure, which will be built by a team of experienced engineers, will consist of 7,506 horizontally stacked barrels on a floating platform in Serpentine Lake. It will be 20 meters (65.5 ft) high x 30 meters (90 ft) wide (at the 60° slanted walls) x 40 meters (130 ft) long. The standard 55 gallon barrels, 59 x 88 cm (2 ft x 3 ft), will be specifically fabricated and painted for this sculpture. The sides of the barrels, visible on the top and on the two slanted walls of the sculpture, will be red and white. The ends of the barrels, visible on the two vertical walls, will be different hues of red, blue, and mauve.
The exhibition of Christo and Jeanne-Claude’s work at the Serpentine Gallery from 19 June to 9 September 2018 will follow the extended trajectory of their use of barrel forms since 1958, a material chosen initially for its sculptural effect and low cost.
Encompassing six decades of the artists’ career through drawings, collages and sculptures relating to temporary works and projects never realized, the exhibition will explore their steadfast commitment to creating forms with barrels for different sites in varying scales across the world.
It will also examine Christo and Jeanne-Claude’s singular ambition to create what will be their most ambitious and monumental sculpture in the Middle East and their only permanent sculpture – which has been more than 40 years in the making – and will dwarf the pyramids in Egypt. It is remarkable to note that this project has been funded by artist himself – as all of their work – through the sale of their own artwork. An ode to the passion that permeated their life and honors the power of connection and the human geniality of the duo.