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September 1, 2010

Williams Center Exhibit Explores Work of International Installation Artists Christo and Jeanne-Claude

One of Christo’s preparatory drawings for the Over the River project.

An exhibit examining the art of internationally-renowned installation artists  will run in the Williams Center Gallery through Oct. 24.

Robert Mattison, professor and head of art, will give a talk about Christo and Jeanne-Claude’s work called “Landscape into Art” at noon Wednesday, Sept. 22, in the Williams Center room 108.

The exhibition features art prints documenting the artists’ current project Over the River: Project for the Arkansas River, State of Colorado and perhaps their most famous installation The Gates, Central Park, New York City, 1979–2005. The prints are on loan courtesy of Nurture New York’s Nature. The exhibit is cosponsored by the environmental studies program, Lafayette’s Fund for Faculty Innovation, and the Nurture Nature Foundation of Easton.

Over The River calls for 5.9 miles of silvery, luminous fabric panels to be suspended high above the Arkansas River along a 40-mile stretch between Salida and Cañon City in south-central Colorado. The installation is planned for two weeks in August 2013, at the earliest.

Planning for The Gates began in 1979. After years of environmental impact reviews, engineering studies, public comment, and obtaining permits, the temporary installation of free-hanging saffron-colored fabric panels along 23 miles of walkways in Central Park was finally realized in 2005.

The couple first met in Paris in October 1958 and has produced dozens of public art installations over a 40 year span. Their work is visually impressive and often controversial as a result of its huge scale. The cost of all their projects, sometimes in the millions of dollars, is raised entirely by Christo and Jeanne-Claude selling studies, drawings, collages, and other artworks.

Some other examples of their work are a 40-kilometer fabric fence in Sonoma and Marin counties in California, a 400-meter cloth curtain stretched across a valley in the Rocky Mountains near Rifle, Colo., wrapping the Reichstag in Berlin in fabric, and surrounding 11 islands in Miami’s Biscayne Bay with 603,850 meters of pink floating fabric. Jeanne-Claude died in November of 2009 from complications due to a brain aneurysm.

Williams Center Gallery hours are Tuesday-Friday 11 a.m.-5 p.m., Saturday and Sunday noon-5 p.m., and 7:30-9 p.m. on the evenings of public performances in the Williams Center. For more information, contact Michiko Okaya, director of Lafayette art galleries, at (610) 330-5361 or via email.

Exhibitions at the Williams Center Gallery are funded in part by a grant from the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, a state agency funded by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, and the National Endowment for the Arts.

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