Goodbye, Gates

Christo’s gates in Central Park will be taken down this weekend. Whatever one may think of them in the end, they did give us something to talk about for a while (see our earlier posts here, here, here, here, and here). Let me give the last word to Hal Foster, Townsend Martin Professor of Art at Princeton, writing in the London Review of Books:

Chris‘The Gates’, the orange portals and banners that punctuated many of the paths in Central Park from 12 to 27 February, were greeted with great delight. People were first softened up by the numbers – 7532 portals, 5290 tons of steel, 60 miles of vinyl tubing, 116,389 miles of pleated nylon, 23 miles of trails, $21 million in costs – and then worked over by all the wacky presentations by the Bulgarian-born Christo and his French-born partner Jeanne-Claude (she of the punk-red hair). Contemporary art is big, bright, expensive and eager to please, right? So maximise these qualities, involve as many people as possible (640 paid workers to assemble the gates and 340 volunteer ‘ambassadors’ to open them), and you have a winning formula. Scale of work and size of audience will trump everything else (the hero of the piece might be the head engineer), and the piece will triumph as spectacle. If the actual location of The Gates was the park, its effective site was the global media (including the souvenir market online): that is to say, its site was everywhere.

But what if we consider the piece, perversely, in terms of the old criteria of colour and line?

More here. (Thanks to Setare Farz for bringing this article to my attention.)