Christo’s Early Works 1958-1963 —Ala Champ
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Christo’s Early Works 1958-1963

Presented for the First Time at Gagosian Paris

June, 2022
CHRISTO Package, 1960 Embroidered table cloth and rope © Christo and Jeanne-Claude Foundation Photo: Thomas Lannes Courtesy Gagosian

Christo‘s sculptures made in Paris between 1958 and 1963 are presented at Gagosian Paris for the first time in an exhibition dedicated to the late artist. Held across two floors of Gagosian Paris on rue de Ponthieu, the exhibition is not far from Christo’s first Paris studio.

Organised in collaboration with the artist’s Estate, the exhibited works provide boundless insight into the development of Christo’s art process. In addition, they are significant to the history of art itself, with the artist continuing to influence the many with his vision. Early examples of Christo’s wrapped objects and barrel structures are shown, as are the rarely exhibited Surfaces d’Empaquetage and Cratèresseries key works.

CHRISTO Early Works, 1958–1963, installation view © Christo and Jeanne-Claude Foundation Photo: Thomas Lannes Courtesy Gagosian

Christo’s first studio was in a small maid’s room at 14 rue de Saint Sénoch in the 17th arrondissement, the first place he located to when he moved to Paris in 1958.

In this studio he created his first Wrapped Objects and barrel structures, and in retrospect we now see that these elements continued throughout Christo’s sculptural practise. In 1958 Christo also met a pivotal individual, Jeanne-Claude Denat de Guillebon, who would become his wife and his close creative partner, a significant force in his life. Together they would coauthor public artworks which would rewrite the existing perspectives on the power of art.

CHRISTO Two Wrapped Chairs, 1961 Two chairs, fabric, rope, lacquer © Christo and Jeanne-Claude Foundation Photo: Thomas Lannes Courtesy Gagosian
CHRISTO Early Works, 1958–1963, installation view © Christo and Jeanne-Claude Foundation Photo: Thomas Lannes Courtesy Gagosian

Christo first began working with steel oil drums because they were inexpensive and almost indestructible. Later he began to cover them with fabric, varnish, paint, and sand that he used on smaller objects like cans and bottles.

“I started working on the Cratères, the Wrapped Cans, the Surfaces d’Empaquetage around the same time, in 1958. In the beginning, the wrapping was not essential. It was not so much about making an object, but more about the texture of the object itself. I used fabric to wrap the cans, then I applied paint and lacquer to stiffen the fabric. This way they became like a still life”
—Christo, 2020

CHRISTO Package on a Table, 1961 Wooden table, three types of fabric, twine, rope, lacquer and a can © Christo and Jeanne-Claude Foundation Photo: Thomas Lannes Courtesy Gagosian

Sixty years ago this month, on the evening of June 27, 1962, Christo and Jeanne-Claude installed Wall of Oil Barrels—The Iron Curtain, closing the historic rue Visconti with eighty-nine barrels. The 4.2-meter-high barricade blocked one of narrowest streets in Paris for eight hours, obstructing most of the traffic through the Left Bank.

The culmination of Christo and Jeanne-Claude’s work with barrels will come full circle with their final work, The Mastaba, conceived in 1977 for Abu Dhabi as the only permanent large-scale public artwork. The Mastaba will be carried out per Christo’s wishes by the artist’s team.

CHRISTO Early Works, 1958–1963, installation view © Christo and Jeanne-Claude Foundation Photo: Thomas Lannes Courtesy Gagosian
CHRISTO Early Works, 1958–1963, installation view © Christo and Jeanne-Claude Foundation Photo: Thomas Lannes Courtesy Gagosian
Paris, 1960: Christo in his storeroom in the basement of Jeanne-Claude’s apartment at 4, avenue Raymond Poincaré © Christo and Jeanne-Claude Foundation Photo: René Bertholo Courtesy Gagosian
CHRISTO AND JEANNE-CLAUDE Wall of Oil Barrels—The Iron Curtain, Rue Visconti, Paris, 1961–62 Not included in the exhibition. © Christo and Jeanne-Claude Foundation Photo: Jean-Dominique Lajoux Courtesy Gagosian
CHRISTO AND JEANNE-CLAUDE Wall of Oil Barrels—The Iron Curtain, Rue Visconti, Paris, 1961–62 Not included in the exhibition. © Christo and Jeanne-Claude Foundation Photo: Jean-Dominique Lajoux Courtesy Gagosian
Paris, 1961: Christo during the erection of "26 Oil Barrels" (1961) in the studio of photographer Jean-Dominique Lajoux Not included in the exhibition. © Christo and Jeanne-Claude Foundation Photo: Jean-Jacques Lévêque Courtesy Gagosian

Gagosian rue de Ponthieu, Paris
June 10 – October 8, 2022

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June, 2022