Christo presents The Mastaba, his new large-scale art object in London | Arts | DW

Renowned environmentalist artist Christo presented his latest work, titled The mastaba, Monday.

The ambitious artist originally designed the installation in 1977 with his wife, Jeanne-Claude, who died in 2009.

The pyramid sculpture constructed from 410,000 multicolored barrels was designed for a site in the desert near Abu Dhabi. The intention was to create a mosaic of bright and sparkling colors that would echo Islamic architecture.

Eventually, the work found a place in London, where construction began on April 3. The reduced and temporary version of The mastaba consists of 7,506 barrels of oil and is 20 meters high, 30 meters wide and 40 meters long.

The object is Christo’s first major public outdoor work in the UK. The mastaba will float on Serpentine Lake from June 18 to September 23, 2018.

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Free art for all

“It’s a very special summer day,” Christo said on Monday as the unveiled artwork sparkled in the sun. “All interpretations are open, because they all cause us to think – and thought is what makes us human.”

“As with all my projects, the construction, maintenance and removal of the artwork will be fully funded by me through the sale of my original artwork. The London Mastaba in Hyde Park will be absolutely free for the public – no tickets, no reservations and no owners. It will belong to everyone until it is gone, “he said of his article in April.

The work cost 3 million pounds (3.4 million euros) to produce.

The floating piers were a site-specific work of art by Christo and Jeanne-Claude from 2016 that created a walkable surface between Sulzano, Monte Isola and the island of San Paolo

The work is in line with his past projects: In 2016, Christo unveiled Floating jetties in Italy, orange walkways laid directly on the surface of Lake Iseo, which attracted 1.2 million visitors.

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In 1995, he and his wife had wrapped the Reichstag in Berlin with a silver cloth, and a decade earlier they surrounded 11 of the islands in Biscayne Bay in Florida with a floating pink woven fabric covering the surface of the water, extending the surface of each island.

The fabric that Christo uses in his objects symbolizes the transience of works of art.

Oil barrel protest art

The opening of The mastaba coincides with the artist’s retrospective in the adjacent Serpentine Galleries. As Christo explained, the exhibition explores the use of oil barrels in his works from 1958 to the present day and provides important context for the London work.

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The Mastaba site at Serpentine Lake

Environmentalists were involved in the planning of the Mastaba. The work of art occupies only one percent of the surface of the lake

Christo and his wife and collaborator, Jeanne-Claude, caused a sensation in 1962 with their project Wall of Oil Drums – Iron Curtain, in which they blocked a street in Paris with 441 barrels of oil. The installation, which expressed the duo’s contempt for the GDR regime and the construction of the Berlin Wall, took place without official permission.

In 1975, Christo designed a similar mastaba in Texas; three years ago he also created another version of The mastaba in Saint-Paul de Vence in south-eastern France, using 1,000 barrels.


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