Volume temporaire - Empaquetage pour Minneapolis School of Art
Pencil and coloured pencil, charcoal, collaged on card on hardboard. 71 x 56 cm. Framed under plexiglass. Signed, dated, titled and inscribed 'Volume temporaire - Empaquetage pour Minneapolis School of Art - 24 - 29 octobre 1966 Christo 42390 CUBIC FEET EMPAQUETAGE'. - With studio traces and minor traces of age.
The present pencil and charcoal drawing ‘Empaquetage pour Minneapolis School of Art’ is one of the early and rarely offered project-based works by Christo. In October 1966, the Bulgarian-born artist and his wife Jeanne-Claude created their first important packing project of a monumental scale in the Minneapolis School of Art. Together with the students, they packed 2,800 colour balloons into four army high-altitude research balloons. All the balloons were inflated, sealed, and packed into around 800 square meters of semi-transparent polyethylene film. A 900m long ‘manila’ rope gave the huge packet a structure. Inflated, the resulting oblong balloon was almost 800m in length. As the highlight of the ‘happening’, Christo and Jean-Claude had the idea of lifting the balloon up with the help of a helicopter and letting it fly. The strong wind at the time, however, put a stop to this. Nevertheless, the sunlight conjured up a dreamily beautiful effect on the colourful and transparent materials.
With the realisation of their projects, the artist couple forgo subsidies, financing them instead through the sale of signed preliminary drawings and photographs, as with the present drawing for Minneapolis. For this, Christo chose a view from the front and added a scaled figure to clarify the dimensions. He achieves the three-dimensional effect of the balloon through the confident handling of the charcoal with shadowed and lightened areas. The inscription in the lower part of the sheet offers the title, ‘42390 Cubic Feet Empaquetage’, and also gives an idea of the materials, dimensions and number of students involved.
The present work is registered in the Archives of the Estate of Christo V. Javacheff, New York.
Annely Juda, London (label verso); Willy D'Huysser Gallery, Brussels (label verso); Private collection, Belgium