CHRISTO (1935-2020)
Artist's Resale Right ("Droit de Suite"). Artist's… Read more
CHRISTO (1935-2020)

Surrounded Islands (Project for Biscayne Bay, Greater Miami, Florida)

CHRISTO (1935-2020)
Surrounded Islands (Project for Biscayne Bay, Greater Miami, Florida)
(i) signed, titled, inscribed and dated 'Surrounded Islands (Project For Biscayne Bay, Greater Miami, Florida) Venetian Causeway, J. Tuttle Causeway, 79th STREET Causeway and Broad Causeway; Christo 1981' (lower edge)
pastel, crayon, graphite, charcoal, enamel paint and aerial photograph on paper, in Plexiglas box, in two parts
(i) 15 1⁄2 x 96 1⁄2 x 2in. (39.5 x 245 x 5cm.)
(ii) 42 1⁄2 x 96 1⁄2 x 2in. (108 x 245 x 5cm.)
overall: 58 1⁄8 x 96 1⁄2 x 2in. (147.5 x 245 x 5cm.)
Executed in 1981
Obelisk Gallery, Boston (acquired directly from the artist in 1981).
Anon. sale, Sotheby's New York, 15 November 1995, lot 56.
Acquired at the above sale by the present owner.
Special notice

Artist's Resale Right ("Droit de Suite"). Artist's Resale Right Regulations 2006 apply to this lot, the buyer agrees to pay us an amount equal to the resale royalty provided for in those Regulations, and we undertake to the buyer to pay such amount to the artist's collection agent.
This lot has been imported from outside of the UK for sale and placed under the Temporary Admission regime. Import VAT is payable at 5% on the hammer price. VAT at 20% will be added to the buyer’s premium but will not be shown separately on our invoice.

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Anna Touzin
Anna Touzin Specialist, Head of Day Sale

Lot Essay

In 1980 Jan van der Marck, then the director of Center for the Fine Arts in Miami, invited Christo and Jeanne-Claude to create an artwork for the city. After scouring Miami’s many neighbourhoods, the duo spotted the uninhabited islands of Biscayne Bay and identified this as the site for their installation. For over two years they planned their artwork, and on 4 May 1983, the unfurling crew began to ‘blossom’ over 6 million square feet of pink fabric. For two weeks, the pink halos floated harmoniously in a turquoise sea before the landscape was returned to its original state. To prepare for the installation, Christo and Jeanne-Claude created a series of preparatory drawings, of which the present work is one of the largest examples. As their art takes years—if not decades—to realise, Christo always viewed the planning process of as integral to the development and meaning of the work itself. Describing the choice of pink in Surrounded Islands, for example, he recalled his hesitation, saying, ‘In our sketches and live-site tests, all of the projects start with white fabric. The color comes much later … For the pink in Surrounded Islands, I was very uneasy with the pink, how strong that pink should be. You can see in the very early sketches, this pink is much quieter. It got more and more and more intense as we went on. So it changes as our understanding of the project changes’ (Christo interviewed by B. Rose, Interview, 10 March 2014). Surrounded Islands, Project for Biscayne Bay, Greater Miami, Florida serves as a record of these choices, and as a schema, it reveals the painstaking and deliberative process undertaking by Christo and Jeanne-Claude.

Born in Bulgaria, Christo studied first at the Academy of Fine Arts in Vienna before moving to Geneva and then Paris, in 1958, where he supported himself as a portraitist; he met his future wife Jeanne-Claude while painting a portrait of her mother. Initially, Christo wrapped small objects—paint cans and oil drums, among others—and it wasn’t until 1969 that he wrapped his first building, Chicago’s Museum of Contemporary Art, where Jan van der Marck was the founding director. Over the following decades, he and Jeanne-Claude went on to wrap the Reichstag, a million square feet of Sydney’s coastline, and, last year, Paris’s Arc de Triomphe; this was their final wrapped work. Asked why he pursued such projects, Christo said, ‘Jeanne-Claude and I, we do these things for ourselves. If somebody likes it, it’s only a bonus. We do things we enjoy visually. But you should understand, the work is not in the results. The journey is the work—it’s incredible … It’s like an adventure and it’s very exciting and it’s foolish. It’s totally irrational and useless. But Jeanne-Claude and I like to do them. Nobody asks us. We like to think them up and we like to build them’ (Christo interviewed by B. Rose, ibid.).

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