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Jun 18-Sep 23, 2018: Artist Christo floats sculpture of oil barrels on a London lake

UNITED KINGDOM - Artist Christo is floating his latest sculpture, 7,600 stacked and painted oil barrels, on the Serpentine Lake in London’s Hyde Park. Called The Mastaba, it forms a rectangle with two sloping sides and a flat roof.

It is the 84-year-old artist’s second art project in Britain: in 1963, he wrapped a journalist who had arrived for an interview.

Christo, born Christo Vladimirov Javacheff in Bulgaria, describes a mastaba as an ancient trapezoidal prism form. His London mastaba will be 20 meters high, 30 meters wide and 40 meters long. The barrels visible on the top and the two slanted walls will be painted red and white; while the ends of the barrels visible on the two vertical walls will be painted red, blue and purple. The sculpture will rest on a floating platform made of high-density polyethylene cubes anchored to the lakebed. A frame of steel beams holds the creation together.

The artist will supply the fine details about the installation at an exhibition – Christo and Jeanne-Claude: Barrels and The Mastaba (1958-2018) – at the Serpentine Gallery Jun 19 to Sep 9.

Christo and Jeanne-Claude, his late wife, became famous for extraordinary sculptures. Their Running Fence in 1976, a 5.5-meter high fabric curtain that ran 39.4 km over rolling hills and down into the ocean near San Francisco, established their fame. It was dismantled completely 12 days after it was completed.

They might be best known for wrapping the entire Reichstag in Berlin in 1995 in a silvery curtain, an act that required almost 25 years of negotiation for permission.
The Pont Neuf in Paris, too, also received a Christo wrapper, and he stretched a pier across an Italian lake that made visitors feel as though they were walking on water.

Christo told Architectural Digest in 2017 that the biggest hurdle to achieving their architecturally scaled works has always been the bureaucratic red tape that sometimes takes decades to overcome. “In the last 50 years, we realized 23 projects and failed 36 of them.”

#22594 Published: 04/20/2018

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