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