Christo (American, born 1935) The Pont Neuf Wrapped (Project For Paris), in two parts 1979

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Lot 6* AR
Christo
(American, born 1935)
The Pont Neuf Wrapped (Project For Paris), in two parts
1979

Sold for £ 206,312 (US$ 256,952) inc. premium
Christo (American, born 1935)
The Pont Neuf Wrapped (Project For Paris), in two parts
1979

signed, titled and dated 1979 on the upper panel; variously inscribed on the reverse of each panel
pastel, wax crayon, charcoal, graphite and printed paper on card laid on board, in a Perspex frame

Upper Panel: 38 by 244 cm.
14 15/16 by 96 1/16 in.

Lower Panel: 107 by 244 cm.
42 1/8 by 96 1/16 in.


Footnotes

  • Provenance
    Carl Flach, Sweden
    Sale: Sotheby's, London, Post-War and Contemporary Art, 3 December 1992, Lot 68
    Galerie Bernard Cats, Brussels
    Acquired directly from the above by the present owner in 1994



    Over the course of one of the most enchanting and beloved artistic careers – famed for producing some of the greatest monumental and dramatic works of public sculpture to ever be realised – American artist Christo and his wife Jeanne-Claude have redefined the notion of public sculpture, bringing their 'wrapped' projects to cities including Berlin, Chicago, Milan, and Paris. Presented here are two sterling examples of Christo's preparatory artworks for The Pont Neuf Wrapped and The Umbrellas, each project realised in 1985 and 1991 respectively. Internationally lauded and collected by museums that include the Art Institute of Chicago, the Cleveland Museum of Art, USA, and the Tate collection, London, the Centre Pompidou in Paris will play host to a major retrospective of Christo and Jeanne-Claude, opening in March 2020, before presenting one of their most significant and highly anticipated wrapped monuments in September; covering the Arc de Triomphe in Paris with 25,000 square meters of fabric for a period of 16 days.

    Contemplative and beautiful, Christo's practice emerged from the Nouveau Réalisme movement in Paris in the early 1960s alongside artists including Yves Klein and Jean Tinguely. Having fled the Eastern Bloc, escaping from Czechoslovakia to Vienna in 1957 before making his way to the French capital, the artist found his quintessential style early on, wrapping cans, bottles, shoes, and chairs in his Paris attic studio, before meeting his lifelong collaborator and wife Jeanne-Claude in 1958.

    Offered for sale are two preparatory renderings of a pair of enormously complex projects Christo and Jeanne-Claude would undertake years after their conception. The Pont Neuf Wrapped (Project For Paris) (1979) – one if the largest Christo works to ever come to market – and The Umbrellas (Joint project for Japan and USA) (1990) illustrate the extravagant conceptual mind that made Christo and Jeanne-Claude two of the most celebrated and admired creative visionaries of the last half century.

    The Pont-Neuf bridge was first completed in July 1606 and is the oldest bridge crossing the river Seine in the French capital. An icon of Paris, joining the left and right banks and the Île de la Cité for over 400 years, it has been immortalised in paint by J.M.W. Turner, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, and Camille Pissarro alike. Joining such a canon of artists to tackle this historical site, the present work by the artist is a rare, large-scale, two-part study for the proposed project that took ten years of negotiations and two rejections before it was finally executed in 1985. Turning one of the most important pieces of architecture in Paris into a uniform façade of folds and bindings, Christo and Jeanne-Claude drew attention to the history, the design, and the mythology of the 'City of Light', highlighting the building blocks of a culture and a nation; appreciating them by veiling them. Documenting the ephemeral, 14-day event, the energetic diptych, The Pont Neuf Wrapped (Project For Paris), depicts a charming blend of studied, expressive and technical marks, combined with notes and comments by the artist's hand, capturing the committed and all-encompassing approach to what would become one of the duo's most iconic wrapped monuments.

    A thought-provoking and more politically weighted piece, The Umbrellas (Joint project for Japan and USA) depicts one of Christo and Jeanne-Claude's most elaborate and poignant works of public sculpture, ambitiously constructed between two continents either side of the Pacific Ocean in 1991. From 9th October that year for 18 days, 3100 oversized umbrellas standing at little over 6 meters high, divided between two valleys in Japan and California, USA, were opened and stood silently and proudly as objects that sheltered and mirrored one another across nations that had previously known intolerable war against one another. Often rebutting the political or historical reading of their work, the couple's temporary monuments nonetheless consistently nudge a reading of them as being bound to their sites and their shapes, drawing attention to their location and social currency. In the present work, Christo's Japanese umbrellas dance through the valley of the Sato River, wonderfully depicted in vivid hues of green and blue, inscribed exuberantly in pencil on paper, alongside a technical map of the lowland in the Prefecture of Ibaraki.

    As much technical drawings as they are visions of a project to-be, the two diptychs by Christo offered here are superlative examples of the artists' fleeting monumental projects and their lasting preparatory studies. Works of art in their own right, they stand as exquisite landscapes that chart the magnificent and provocative impact Christo and Jeanne-Claude have had, not just as great sculptors, but as an artist-duo who have made history and culture their very medium.
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