Lithograph with collage of polyethylene and twine, with pencil additions
22 x 28 in.
Edition of 125
Pencil signed and numbered
About the work:
For over 50 years, the art duo Christo and Jeanne-Claude wrapped buildings, trees, bridges and Islands with distinctive materials.
Although they worked as creative equals on most of their art projects, only Christo’s name appeared on the finished products. This was a conscious decision by the pair because of the prejudices against women artists. Jeanne-Claude said, “The decision to use only the name Christo was made deliberately when we were young because it was difficult for one artist to be established and we wanted to put all the chances on our side.” This changed in 1994, when their works were retroactively credited to both of them.
Although their work is visually impressive and at times controversial, the artists have repeatedly denied that their projects contain any deeper meaning than immediate aesthetic impact. They simply create works of art for joy and beauty and to create new ways of seeing that which is familiar. However, art critic David Bourdon has described Christo’s wrappings as a “revelation through concealment.”
This week’s Work of the Week! WOW! is Wrapped Woman, a lithograph with collage of polyethylene and twine.
Like his contemporaries, Christo rebelled against abstraction. It was too theoretical for his taste so he proposed instead a physical art composed of real things. He would transform objects into aesthetic presences by wrapping them. Typically, he would use everyday objects, including tin cans and bottles, stacks of magazines and furniture but, for a short time, he wrapped people. With industrial materials like polypropylene sheeting, canvas & ropes, the artist would obscure the object’s contours and remove its function.
The objects were never wrapped to make them completely unrecognizable. In Wrapped Woman, the model is wrapped with collaged polyethylene, and while little is left to the imagination, the material instantly gives her a sculptural quality.
The work is part of a whole series in which Christo wrapped shop-window mannequins, which was inspired by a visit to the studio of the sculptor Alberto Giacometti. Christo spoke about the experience enthusiastically: “All of his working sculptures were covered to prevent drying. The cloth made the figures anonymous, ambiguous. That fascinated me. I was impressed that the forms were no longer male or female. They became unknown. I used many layers of clear plastic. It made some forms visible, some less visible. You would look and think, is it a man or a woman? Where is the mouth? Fabric makes everything invisible, but plastic makes you want to see what is inside.”
Through visual limitation is revealed instant curiosity.
Christo’s work carries no hidden message. “The work can absorb all kinds of interpretations, and all these interpretations are legitimate,’ he says. Yet, like all great art, it is captivating and encourages the viewer to experience the world in a slightly different way.