Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Christo and Jeanne-Claude: Early Public Art

"Running Fence," Sonoma and Marin Counties, 1972-1976.

Fully measuring the effect that Christo and Jeanne-Claude have had on the larger community's sense of the environment and the sheer pleasure of art is like trying to assess the impact of Laurie Anderson on visual and performance arts. The effects have been thoroughly absorbed into the creative culture, as if there was no "Running Fence" installation or "Big Science" album, no beginning point. Fortunately, the Smithsonian American Art Museum (SAAM) keeps our focus on the work that changed everything.

SAAM has just acquired the most lyical and spectacular of the Christo and Jeanne-Claude's epic projects "Running Fence," Sonoma and Marin Counties, California, 1972-1976; a white fabric and steel-pole fence, 24 1/2 miles long and 18 feet high, across the properties of 59 ranchers in Sonoma and Marin Counties north of San Francisco. The “Running Fence” existed for only two weeks; it survives today as a memory and through the artwork and documentation by the artists.

Here is the scoop from ArtDaily.org. Unveiled at the Bi-Centennial of the nation in 1976, it convinced ordinary Americans of the transformative power of art. We will have to wait until April 2010 for the formal exhibition to open. Patience is required.

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