Project 9 - Christo and Jeanne-Claude

Twenty-one years after Christo and Jeanne-Claude created Wrapped Coast – One Million Square Feet, Little Bay, Sydney, Australia, 1968–69, the first Kaldor Public Art Project, a survey exhibition, Christo, was staged at Sydney’s Art Gallery of New South Wales and Perth’s Art Gallery of Western Australia as Project 9. The exhibition traced Christo’s first sculptural works through to the wrapped buildings and vast environmental projects he created with Jeanne-Claude, where they famously wrapped, surrounded and veiled sites around the world. Over 150 works were displayed, many from Christo and Jeanne-Claude’s private collection. A new work, Wrapped Vestibule, was also made for the exhibition in Sydney.

It was the largest exhibition of Christo and Jeanne-Claude's works to date and the first time an Australian museum had curated a survey of a contemporary international artist. Documentation, drawings and plans were displayed for ten of the projects that had been realised, including the first work created in a public space, Iron Curtain – Wall of Oil Barrels, Rue Visconti, Paris, 1961–62, a 5.5-metre-high stack of oil drums obstructing Paris traffic, and the first wrapped public building, Wrapped Kunsthalle, Bern, 1967–68, encased in polyethylene and rope. To commemorate the creation of Christo and Jeanne-Claude’s first major environmental work, Wrapped Coast, a mural-sized photograph of the 2.4-kilometre shrouded Sydney coastline was displayed, together with models, drawings and collages for the project. Wool Works, the wrapped wool bales created for Melbourne’s National Gallery of Victoria during their 1969 visit, was also represented, as well as Wrapped Trees, two wrapped eucalypts made during their stay.

Also on display was a selection of Christo’s first stacked and wrapped barrels, cans and objects, as well as drawings and collages for the numerous works he created around the world in collaboration with Jeanne-Claude. These included their best-known works Valley Curtain, Grand Hogback, Rifle, Colorado, 1970–72; Running Fence, Sonoma and Marin Counties, California, 1972–76; Surrounded Islands, Biscayne Bay, Greater Miami, Florida, 1980–83; The Pont Neuf Wrapped, Paris, 1975–85; The Umbrellas, Japan–USA, 1984–91; Wrapped Reichstag, Berlin, 1971–95 and The Gates, Central Park, New York City, 1979–2005. Some of the drawings exhibited were designs for projects in gallery spaces, such as a series of wrapped museum floors from 1968 to ’84, or for wrapped public artworks and monuments in Milan, Geneva and Barcelona. These were shown along with drawings for the new work, Wrapped Vestibule, created as part of the exhibition at the Art Gallery of New South Wales in Sydney. Wrapped Vestibule cloaked the transitional room between the street and the exhibition spaces, shrouding the sculptures, mosaics and marble of the gallery’s entrance vestibule in white cloth, gathered and bound with rope.