I wish I could find photos that convey how wonderful Christo and Jeanne-Claude were in person.I heard that she passed away on November 18th.It's not easy to imagine the two of them apart.When I saw them, she did most of the talking.
As a student, I saw photos of their art.I wasn't fully feeling something about it.I wasn't embracing it and digging it as much as I wanted to.Sometimes, of course, I love a work of art right away.Keep in mind I'm not talking about respect here, I'm talking about love.I can respect something immediately because I see the talent and the heart that went into it.On the other hand, of course, sometimes I dislike a piece of art right away.I'm referring to art as a song, a play, a film, a book, a runway show, a painting, and so on and so forth. I disagree with an artist friend of mine, a guy who once said to me "all works of art are beautiful."I get what he means, I wish I agreed, but for me, there have to be things I don't find beautiful, in order to have a frame of reference for what I think beauty is.
There is plenty of art that I reserve judgment on.Sometimes I must revisit it, even if it means reading a book a second time.Or I need to see it in person, or simply look at it more often, let it be in my life longer, before I know if I like or dislike it.If that makes sense to any of you, I'm happy, because I'm not sure how well I can explain the feeling.People usually expect me to like or dislike an artist instantly.
An old best friend of mine, named Melella, understood.I burned him a CD, and there was one song he fell in love with much later.I remember he used to say that the superior song on the album was the one that he realized was amazing after he'd listened to the song many times.Felt as good as discovering something hidden."The song that grows on you is probably better than the song you loved at first listen."I don't think Melella's is a hard and fast rule...but I knew what he meant. Anyway, this is a roundabout analogy for the fact that Christo and Jeanne-Claude are now some of my favorite artists of all time, but when I first saw photos of their work I was definitely lukewarm about them.
As the years went by, I developed an increasing enthusiasm for public art, and I felt more intrigued by Christo and Jeanne-Claude's work every year.Eventually "The Gates" came to New York City.At the time I was spending a ton of my time on the Upper West Side of Manhattan, so the Gates became part of my life's landscape.People traveled from all over the world to visit them...New Yorkers were so lucky that they were at our doorstep.The city was buzzing about it.There were parties.My former boss went to a Gates-viewin' party at a penthouse apartment on Central Park West... that kind of thing.
I wondered if it were all pretentiousness, but when I saw the Gates in person, I was converted into a wholehearted fan.Later that year, I saw footage of the duo's decades preparing artworks around the world.They kept going up notches in my book, because I was gaining a sense of what phenomenal artists they were.First off, they were devoted to each other as if it were second nature.Such a cosmic, beautiful love story was there between them.
When I learned that they worked tirelessly, debating with municipalities and mayors, and passing other obstacles in order to get their artworks finished, I realized this team was passionate far beyond what I see in many people.I started to feel defensive of them when people would act like the Gates were ridiculous.I felt protective and endeared towards them.They were visionaries who had to win people over who couldn't see the worth in the art.They seemed so young even though they were about 70 years old.
They don't accept outside funding for their work, they don't make a profit, and it is to be viewed free of charge.
Some words paraphrased from their website:
"Christo and Jeanne-Claude pay the entire cost of the artworks themselves. They earn all of the money through the sale of the preparatory studies, early works from the 1950s and 1960s and original lithographs.They do not accept grants or volunteer help. They do not accept money for things like posters, postcards, books, films, T-shirt and mugs or any other products at all.Christo and Jeanne-Claude firmly believe that to accept deals of this kind would alter and compromise their art.Refusing this money assures they are working in total freedom."
I eventually met them at this little chilled out place after an event, never knowing that would happen.They reminded me of one of my best painter friends from Europe and her boyfriend (now husband).I didn't say too much, or take photos, or ask for autographs or anything when it happened, because that isn't something I would do. But it was exciting and if I had known she wouldn't be on the planet in a few years, I would have spoken my thanks to her a little more than I did. She taught me things at a pivotal time in my life. She gave me a few gems about being an artist and a woman in love. I think I'll carry that with me.
What do you guys think of these artists? I remember the Gates made me walk to parts of Central Park I never would have gone to.They made the white snow and brownish gray of Manhattan look like a canvas.The wind was the paintbrush manipulating the color, the fabric hanging from each saffron colored arch was the paint.
They made thousands of people feel connected.You walked like an explorer.The color changed your mood.You saw people up ahead of you. Likewise, the people behind you saw you ahead of them.For a few weeks our perceptions of the park and of the other park goers were altered.It was as if we were all swimming in the same current.
I never expected to meet these two, and I never expected that the experience would leave such a deep and lasting impression on me. Thank you Jeanne-Claude... I'll never forget you. Rest in peace.
I'm running to a pool party for Nicole. I don't want to go 3+ days without posting. I'll likely do some polishing on this entry tonight. For now, let me share some images I've been wanting to post. Click on each photo for its full splendor.
One of my favorite photographers is Carlo Van de Roer. I can't remember how I was introduced to him. I believe it was when I spent time in Jen Bekman's gallery in Manhattan, back when I was friendly with Amy Ross. I must have come across Carlo's work then. He was one of Jen's "hot shots" right around the time Amy had a show there.
Carlo, in my experience, has been a very cool guy. This comes as no surprise, because his images are some of the most cooling, soothing, breathtaking scenes of humans interacting with water. The hues are ghostly in all of them. Carlo makes me feel as if I've taken a swim.
I'm really into the one right above this paragraph; it was taken in Iceland. Looks to me like a man with arms outstretched, floating on his back, close to Nirvana. The sea is a dazzling color and reminds me of a milk bath. There's a long cloud of steam or ocean spray on the periphery, which will consume this man (or has already passed over him). It could be something sinister and menacing that approaches, or it could bring salvation to his soul. It's possible we're witnesses to the moment he reaches ultimate peace or ecstasy. It's up to you.
How he managed these shots is miraculous to me. Perhaps Carlo was floating like an orb himself, and was invisible to the people who were his subjects.
Do you think the man above will be swept out to sea? He seems willing, to me.
I never want this series to end. I felt his snowy one wasn't suited for today, a summer Sunday, so, I'm sorry Carlo and readers, I left the snow-themed one out. However, the snow shot is probably my favorite of all in the series, and will make an appearance come winter.
In Carlo's own words:
The term "orb" is typically used to describe circular artifacts in photographs-- artifacts which by some have been interpreted as spirits. Despite being debunked and explained (most commonly as backscatter from precipitation or dust), there's a surprisingly widespread belief that orb photographs document the supernatural. There are organizations, conferences, hunts, field experts, detectors, and websites dedicated to spiritual orb photography.
This photographic search for something larger than ourselves was the starting point for this project. I photographed people in landscapes that are partly obscured by precipitation. The subjects are seen searching for or interacting with orbs, which are represented as dots covering parts of the scene. The prints are displayed together, to be read as a group.
Carlo is originally from New Zealand. He currently lives and works in New York City. His photos were used on my blog with his permission.
If you ever want for your own, his prints are for sale: here and here.