Art exhibition shoots our reality

by Ryo Miyauchi

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No matter how extravagant the idea, artists Christo and Jeanne-Claude worked endlessly to make it a reality. Museum of Contemporary Arts San Diego, La Jolla celebrates the artists’ lifelong works and their dedication in its new exhibition, “XTO+J-C: Christo and Jeanne-Claude.”

The exhibition first introduces viewers to the art of Christo and Jeanne-Claude through several large photographs of their work. The works of view span from the ‘70s and includes sites in the US and Europe. Some may be familiar with “Surrounded Islands” by the artists and its photograph of two small Florida islands surrounded by pink fabric. Photographs of other works, such as “The Umbrellas” or “Running Fence,” are also present. While the actual works are not present at the museum, the photographs tell a good amount of their scale and creativity.

The physical works of Christo and Jeanne-Claude present are the “Wrapped Package” series. From 1958 to 1969, Christo wrapped countless different objects in fabric. Each wrapped package looks mysterious with its bulged exterior, no longer resembling whatever object may be under wraps.

The “XTO + J-C” exhibit not only shows viewers the impressive projects of the artists, but also explores the elaborate processes behind their work. The drafts should look familiar after seeing the photographs of the realized works. Colorful sketches for “The Umbrellas” and “Running Fence” are displayed and framed together with fabric samples and a detailed map of where the work took place.

The sketches and drafts stand strong on their own, especially the ones for works in progress. “Over the River” is one project still in the drafting stage since its start in 1992. For “Over the River,” as presented in Christo’s drawings, the artists plan to have fabric panels hanging above a section of the Arkansas River. Although the work is unfinished, the sketches tell a fulfilled story as they leave the project to the imagination.

“XTO+J-C” presents these behind-the-scenes works of Christo and Jeanne-Claude as a rewarding viewing experience. The framed drafts work more like imagination boards for an extraordinary project and add a deeper appreciation to the realized works. At the end of the trip, the photographed works at the entrance become more profound as a larger-than-life idea finally fulfilled.

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Photo by Wolfgang Volz. Courtesy of Museum of Contemporary Arts, San Diego

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