Today In History: "The Gates" Opens in Central Park

Today In History: "The Gates" Opens in Central Park

           

Our works are temporary in order to endow the works of art with a feeling of urgency to be seen, and the love and tenderness brought by the fact that they will not last. Those feelings are usually reserved for other temporary things such as childhood and our own life. These are valued because we know that they will not last. We want to offer this feeling of love and tenderness to our works, as an added value (dimension) and as an additional aesthetic quality.  -- Christo and Jeanne-Claude

from Remembering Christo and Jeanne-Claude, Artists Behind The Gates in Central Park and More, untapped new york.


A twenty million dollar project that began in 1970, "The Gates" was a large-scale public artwork by Bulgarian artist Christo Yavacheff and French artist Jeanne-Claude.  It consisted of 7,503 saffron-colored, free-hanging vinyl "gates" that were 16 feet tall and erected along a 23 mile path in Central Park. With its official opening on February 12th, 2005, the stunning artwork could be seen closeup along the pedestrian walkways, or from afar through the leafless trees, for a total period of sixteen days. Christo and Jeanne-Claude financed the entire project without sponsorship or donations, and at its conclusion recycled the materials, whose fabric panels were made in Germany and steel components made by seven different manufacturers on the East Coast of the United States. 

Known for their "Wrapping of the Reichstag" in Germany; the surrounding of the Biscayne Bay islands in Florida; the umbrella project in Japan and California; and other large scale, site-specific art projects,  internationally renowned Christo and Jeanne-Claude donated a set of 26 signed posters to Teachers College 26 and the TC Student Chapter of the National Art Education Association in 2000.  These posters, which include a drawing of "The Gates" are on permanent display on the first floor of Grace Dodge Hall.

While "The Gates" was met with mixed reactions in New York City, particularly among those who preferred the natural landscape of Central Park or who were concerned about the safety of the installation, it is interesting to note the reflections of Graeme Sullivan, former Associate Professor of Art Education at Teachers College,  and Lisa Hochtritt, former Doctoral Student in Art Education and Arts Education Coordinator at the Heritage School, who called attention to the "art of gentle disturbance" or a  "practice that disrupts assumptions about permanence, ownership and categorization."

The following articles are drawn from Proquest Historical Newspapers, which informs and inspires classroom teaching and learning.

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