Christo Javacheff and Art in Public Places

Christo Javacheff, a Bulgarian born artist, has developed a magnificent career as an artist who creates short-lived spectacles in the public arena.  For New York City, an urban environment Christo has called home for a number of years, the artist created the Gates Project.  Such public art projects take considerable time to be realized.  So much time and effort is spent getting the necessary “permits” and “approvals” most artists don’t have the patience or fortitude to realize their dream within the tortuous bureaucracy of cities.  Christo possesses extraordinary patience and a doggedness that is almost beyond belief.  The Gates Project for New York City, installed/experienced/de-installed in February 2005, is one such example.  It took the artist nearly 30 years to get the necessary permits for this project!  Christo looks back on his very creative life and states:  “The freedom of every artist is essential.  Our work is a scream of freedom.  The work of art is a scream of freedom.  To keep that absolute freedom we cannot be obliged to anyone.  We wish to work in total freedom. And for every project, because it takes years, you can see the early drawings and collages as just a simple, vague idea, and through the years and through the negotiations of getting the permit, you see that every detail is now clarified.  We tell them that we believe it will be beautiful because that is our speciality, we only create joy and beauty.  We have never done a sad work.  Through the drawings, we hope a majority will be able to visualize it.”  What are your thoughts on Art in Public Places like the Gates Project, why do city administrative officials make the artist continually jump through so many bureaucratic hoops, and does the Gates Project appear to you to be joy and beauty fixed into temporary form?

Christo Javacheff, Drawing for the Gates Project, 1979

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21 thoughts on “Christo Javacheff and Art in Public Places

  1. I feel that administrative officials make the artists continually jump through so many bureaucratic hoops because they don’t understand the art in itself and especially don’t understand the message behind the art. I think that the Gates Project does appear to be joyous and beautiful fixed into temporary form because it adds something to what has become an ordinary sight in your day and turned it into an extraordinary sight. I think the fact that it is only a temporary piece of art adds to the uniqueness and beauty of it. it reminds me of the plum blossoms in Japan that happen once a year and the huge festival that happens to view its magnificence.

  2. I enjoy hearing about exhibits, such as the Gates Project, because I believe art in public places does nothing but enhance that particular area. From a financial standpoint, it can have a profound short term effect on the local economy. It typically increases foot traffic in that specific area of town and the surrounding neighborhoods, which can lead to increased business for area establishments. In my home-town, our local outdoor art exhibit went from random occurrences and grew into a tri-annual 3-day weekend festival. Art exhibits generally improve the esthetics of the area where it is installed; as long as it doesn’t permanently damage the land there should be no reasons to stop their installation. I feel that a city that doesn’t embrace art/design is also eliminating economic avenues for its local businesses.

  3. I think the reason why the administrative officials make the artists continually jump through so many bureaucratic hoops is I think they consider Christo Javacheff’s art ideas as unimportant and something that should not be taken too seriously because these are just obstructions, something that defaces the beauty of nature, and that these kind of ideas are from those people who does not have anything to do with their lives… For one to understand art, they need to have a heart of art. This reminds me of the quote that I heard from the class last week and today, It’s from Mahatma Gandhi that states “first they ignore you, then they ridicule you, then they fight you, then you win”…In our society, people will always have something to say in what you do, they will try to mold you into what they want you to be, if they don’t succeed they will ridicule you and fight with you, they will make you feel like you are a laughing stock, someone that should not be taken seriously, someone weird… But you should not listen to them, because after a while they will just get tired of it and they will just stop, and you, you win.

    The Gate Project appears to be joyous and beautiful to me; especially that the park was dull and boring during it was there due to winter season, there were no colors and everything was plain, so when Christo added the Gates, the park became colorful and lively, it transformed into a joyous place.

  4. Art in public places is magnificent and there should be more. It gives the community a chance to be a part of something even if it means just walking through the gates. Especially since they were only up for two weeks I bet those people who actually walked through it felt special. I know that I would have. I mean special in the terms that those people could say “Yeah I actually walked through the gates and it felt awesome to do it”. It’s a chance to let people live through art. City administrative officials make it so difficult for projects like this to go up because the project will be intruding in public places. i don’t think it is to discourage the artist but in order to be fair to the public area they need to make sure that it is okay. They are doing their jobs. 🙂

  5. Art is not viewed by many as a good thing. For one to express themselves and to be liked for it is extremely rare. All the projects that Christo put time into show what type of person he is. Calm and dedicated to get his thoughts out to the world. The Gate Project was a brilliant idea and turned a boring place into an extraordinary place bringing life to the environment!

  6. I can’t help but to hope the events of 9/11/01 might have helped Christo get to fulfill his dream. The last time I was in Central Park was the summer of 1991. It is one of the most beautiful places I have ever seen. There were concerts going on and people everywhere. I could feel the energy pulsating. It was like everything there was alive. The trees and flowers looked more vibrant. The cement even seemed special. To think ten years later New York would change forever. The Gates Project brought New York back to life in February 2005. I like to think the color of the material was a preview of what spring promises. Maybe the wind blowing through the gates sounded like the hustle and bustle of happy people walking and talking in Central Park? Christo had this vision of joy many years before it was really needed.
    Government must consider the impact of an undertaking such as the Gates Project. There are potential legal,health and safety issues. Should this take three decades to resolve is another matter. I think what the local politicans did was give us all a favor.

  7. Art in public places is a novel way to inspire and educate people. The encouragement it provides for young talented people further inspires them to pursue their art. If the art is a little Avant-Gard the artist will have a public forum to exlain his ideas. The “Gates Project” is unique to me due to the fact that it is remeniscent, due to the color of the cloth and the shape of the posts, of China. As far as the beaurocracy is concerned my ideas on how to solve this problem are extreamly radical and coinside with some of the rules of Sharia Law.

  8. I would like to add a post script to my comments about the Vietnam Memorial. After reading pgs. 106-107 in the “Short Guide ” book my views have completly changed. I know longer see the need for additional graphic statues. Lin has said it all and transended the old stoic idea of memorials.

  9. Different people see art in different forms, so one artist may present their work to the administration and they may not understand the purpose of the artist making it difficult for them to begin the process. Administration may also not want to deal with the safety issues. I believe the Gates project turned what people saw regularly everyday into something spectacular it made people stop and look at his project. It was a different scenery for them to experience. I agree with having art in public places it opens up the mind and soul, it’s is good for us to experience more of that.

  10. Art in public places is amazing. Instead of stuffing art in a gallery and just expecting people who are already art appreciators to come see it. Bringing it to the public is forcing art into everyday life. People who would never go to a gallery are now exposed to it. I think city administrative officials make the artists jump through hoops because they don’t want anything that could cause any conflict…with anything! They don’t want anything different because that opens the door to possibilities of things going wrong. They don’t want to look bad. I think the Gates project is joyous and beautiful. It is exciting that a work of art is put up in such a popular place for everyone to enjoy.

  11. Public Art is beautiful and different. Art should be exposed for people to see. I think administrative officials make things hard for artist because they dont want to cause any troubles for anyone. I also think people are afraid of new ideas and the commotion they can cause. Its not everyday that you can see something like the gates project. I think the gates project is amazing, christo did a great job putting his dream into reality.

  12. i think the main reason they make it so difficult for artists to put up public art is because they don’t want anyone offended by the piece of art, or physically hurt in any way, so by making the paperwork so difficult, they hope that the artist will give up. They also have to consider the fact that if they make it easy for artists to post public art, every artist is gonna want to do it, which is something that they don’t want because its more drama that they have to deal with.

  13. The reason why there are so many ‘bureaucratic hoops’ and hurdles that the artist must go through is because art is powerful in the message it conveys, especially a public display; the message of art in question has to be suitable for a society. It is similar to our political freedom of speech. We have it, but our freedom to speak freely about whatever we want is still regulated, and understandably so. We, as a society, cannot allow someone to randomly scream “Fire!” in a crowded theatre at will when there is no present danger; that disturbs the peace and causes unnecessary emotional trauma and consternation for many. Another good example – a more specific current event – involves the anti-American riots occurring in Egypt over a YouTube video mocking the Islamic Prophet Muhammad as a fraud and womanizer. The creator of that video is allowed freedom of speech and has demonstrated that political right in an artistic (albeit, denigrating) manner by expressing himself. However, I do not believe it should have been permitted, evidently because of the amount of backlash and riots going on with Egyptians attacking our American embassies, consequently weakening our diplomatic relationship with Egypt and other Islamic countries. Without further digression, I do take pleasure in the Gates Project and feel it is a successful work of art. It gives me a sense of ease and warm welcome.

  14. I think art is should appear in anywhere of our life, it not just stay in the museum or some special room. Drawing for the Gates project is an good example, its in the public place and it use recyle materials, when it move it will show noting on the land. The government don’t like it may be they think it influence the city’s image and they don’t know what meaning of the arts.

  15. What are your thoughts on Art in Public Places like the Gates Project, why do city administrative officials make the artist continually jump through so many bureaucratic hoops, and does the Gates Project appear to you to be joy and beauty fixed into temporary form? Art should be in public places, but of course without infringing on the properties and rights of others. In that case, I do believe that there should be a process to go through before someone can create a public piece of art, however, I do believe that the city government overdid it and really put effort in preventing the creation of his work. I think the gates project serves it’s purpose and that it invokes a feeling of freedom. That each time you pass through a gate you are to enter another place. The flowing curtains that dance in the wind are to symbolize openness. At least that’s how I see it.

  16. Art is harmless. If anything it brings light to our own individual worlds and also a world together as one. I think art should be able to be posted anywhere, but of course there are rules and regulations and i think they make artists go through all the waiting because they hope that they will give up on trying to have their piece posted somewhere. It’s sad because everyone always says this is a free country but how are we free if we cant even do the most harmless thing and express ourselves to the world. It’s truly tragic. But then they’re are those who wait and have this great amount of patience who win in their goal, and that is where patience is something beautiful and rewarding in the end.

  17. Cities and administrations tend to jump in the way of artists because that is the very nature of their job. I don’t think they’re necessarily doing to be invasive or obstructive, they are just trying to keep their constituency generally happy. I believe that the government was right in keeping the Gates project waiting because, given the sheer mass of his undertaking, it was understandable to have some reservations. Over time, as the artist developed a positive reputation, he was eventually granted permission to express himself throughout central park. In a way, the long wait was good for the project. Thirty years of wait culminated in the expression of joy that was seen, if only for a moment.

  18. In my opinion, art in the public is one of the bravest showcase behavior. An artist has to endure the pressure from the public and the reaction of the audiences and even the government. I think the government would always rather the situation to be under controlled since art represents the freedom of thoughts. When I learned about the projects of Christo Javacheff, I was amazed by his vision and his courage. Not to mention the haven-like results of his projects, the consistency alone would deserve my biggest applause.

  19. public is the hardest one to do because no matter what the whole world is going to see and you are going to feel their reactions in person. So if you have some that totally sucks you wont be able to hide your in the public spot light.

  20. I am sorry but what is this? This is art? This looks like the caveman paintings.

    Now with that said, I do not think this appears to be joy and beauty fixed into contemporary form. Because it looks like a sketch of what joy and beauty should look like, I am very disappointed with Christo Javacheff with this piece. His other masterpieces like the Wrapped Coast, Valley Curtain, and Running Fence projects actually portray beauty and in its physical form. Reasons being: they do not look like cavemen drawings, they represent the true values of virtue through nature in its highest form, and it allows the human imagination to soar.

    This piece is utterly sad…

  21. I think that Art in Public Places is very important. It can add to pride in a person’s place of residency and attract tourists to the area which can improve the economy of the area. The art can be a strong symbol to some and can hold a lot of meaning in people’s lives. Personally, I do not like the Gates Project very much, but I have not walked through that area, I have only seen photos of this piece. It could be more meaningful if observing it in person. To me, the Gates Project does not seem like “joy and beauty in fixed form,” but I am not one to judge for others, my opinion is for myself only. I can see how others might like this piece more than me.

    City Administrative Officials make artists jump through so many hoops when putting up Art in Public Places because there is a lot of risk that goes behind doing this. There are expenditures to consider, the officials want public opinion to stay positive and do not want to incur any bad publicity, and there are many other things they have to taking into consideration before allowing for these big projects. I personally do not think that the long bureaucratic process is totally worth it, but it is a necessary evil, and if an artist is passionate enough about their work, they will take these great strides in order for their art to be displayed in this manner.

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