Kimball gets wrapped up in Christo & Jeanne-Claude
Christo Vladimirov Javacheff and Jeanne-Claude Marie Denat, known in the art world as Christo & Jeanne-Claude, were known for their large, public art installations.
They would use colorful fabric and plastic to wrap trees, fences, buildings and, in some cases, outline small islands.
They also wrapped small objects such as staplers and oil barrels, and do these things in an eye-catching and thought provoking way, said Christine Baczek, exhibitions manager for the Kimball Art Center.
"Christo and Jeanne-Claude are two major figures in art history, particularly in modern art," Baczek explained to The Park Record. "They would document their public installations and then create other one-of-a-kind collages that they didn’t document."
The Kimball Art Center will celebrate the artists when it opens "Christo & Jeanne Claude: The Tom Golden Collection" with a private members-only reception on Saturday, Nov. 1. The public will be able to see the exhibit Nov. 2 through Jan. 4.
This is the largest collection of their works ever available in the United States and this is the first time this exhibit has ever been in Utah, according to Baczek.
"It will focus on 126 works by Christo and Jeanne-Claude that range from drawings to collages to photographs," Baczek said. "We also have a few three-dimensional artworks that stand alone."
Two of the smaller works are called "Wrapped Stapler" and ‘Wrapped Bouquet of Flowers," according to Baczek.
"We will display another small item that is an oil barrel that Christo wrapped as part of their oil barrel projects," she said.
"Christo & Jeanne-Claude" will be presented in the Main Gallery, but will also include an educational component back by the Garage Gallery.
"This exhibit will feature artwork for children who visit the Kimball Art Center during our A.R.T.S. tours," Baczek said.
A.R.T.S. is an acronym for Art Resources for Teachers and Students.
The exhibit has been traveling the United States and is presented by the Sonoma County Museum of Art.
"Museums don’t lend their artwork lightly," Baczek explained. "So a gallery that will show these works has to meet many different qualifications."
One requirement was to keep the temperature and humidity levels at a certain range and we had to have adequate storage space.
"We also had to have trained art-handlers on staff," Baczek said. "We couldn’t have done any thing like that without the support of the community and those who donate money to us, especially Larry and Judy Brownstein, the Swartz Foundation, the Utah Division of Arts and Museums, the George S. & Dolores Doré Eccles Foundation and the Summit County RAP Tax. If it wasn’t for them, we wouldn’t have the funding to keep our facility up to those standards to bring in a quality show like this."
Also, the exhibit predominantly features works on paper, which can fade after time.
"When a work on paper goes on tour, it is assigned a light budget," Baczek said. "A light budget means that a work of art can be in light for six months and has to be out of rest for five years.
"So, as the tour goes along, all the works will use up its light budget and then be put out of public view for the rest of some people’s lives," she said. "We are very lucky to catch this show."
One of the significant topics that has surrounded Christo and Jeanne-Claude throughout their collaboration is politics, Baczek said.
"They were very adamant that their works were just something that was beautiful and when people categorized them as political or environmental artists, they would strongly disagree," she said. "However, you can’t ignore that they did create works in the environment and caused political questions to arise."
Although they didn’t try to make any political statements, by creating large installations, some of which spanned tons of fabric many miles long, in communities, they had to address politics, Baczek explained.
"With a project called ‘Running Fence,’ which took the idea of spreading a 25-mile-long fabric fence into the communities of Sonoma and Marin Counties in California, they had to engage 59 private ranches," she said. "They went to the owners to talk with them and show them what they wanted to do. They had to make a case and convince these people to allow them to do this."
The negotiations didn’t stop there.
"They had to approach county, city and state governments to get the permits to do this," Baczek said. ‘In doing so, they raised the issues of private versus public and local laws versus federal laws. just doing these large projects, they had to be political on different levels in the community."
Kirstie Henderson, marketing director for the Kimball Art Center, said she likes that Christo & Jeanne-Claude took art outside of the museum.
"That’s something the Kimball Art Center has always been a proponent of," Henderson said. "Art should be for everyone."
Henderson laments that the KAC couldn’t bring any of the artists’ large installations to the community, so the staff has come up with KAC Wraps to give the public a hands-on way to experience the spirit of Christo & Jeanne-Claude.
"We also plan to wrap some things and post them on our Facebook page," she said. "We want people to take inspiration from the couple’s small-scale works, choose a common object to wrap in any material they like, take a photograph of the finished product, and post it to their social media with the hashtag #KACwrapped. They can use plastic, fabric, aluminum foil or even rags around the house to wrap things. The more, the merrier."
During the Live PC Give PC fundraiser next week, the Kimball Art Center staff will wrap a car.
"There is no limit to what you can wrap," Henderson said. "We just want the community to get inspired."
The Kimball Art Center, 638 Park Ave., will show "Christo & Jeanne-Claude: The Tom Golden Collection," from Nov. 1, through Jan. 4. Admission is free. For more information, visit http://www.kimballartcenter.org.
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