(image above from this article)
On the Serpentine Lake in Hyde Park in London at present there is a floating pile of barrels, a Mastaba by Christo and Jean-Claude.
The artists' work has intrigued me for many years, but I have never experienced one for real until now. What a fun intervention, a thought-provoking piece of public art, a temporary delight, with elaboration in an exhibition at the Serpentine Gallery.
We arrived early, before the galleries opened in order to walk around the Serpentine before the heat and the crowds arrived. People were already swimming, and of course the waterfowl were out in force, many with young.
When going round the exhibition, looking at Christo's seductive sketches: combined painting, mapping, photography, and his models, and his other works with barrels, I was struck by the symbolism of the barrel. Not only the overwhelming image of the importance of oil, and transporting oil and other goods; but also I had a sudden vision of similar importance of amphorae transporting olive oil and fish sauce round the Roman empire. And of course dear Diogenes! - how relevant he is these days.
Christo and Jean-Claude's great ambition has been to build a similar barrel Mastaba in Abu Dhabi, and I hope that not only is this achieved, but that for once it will remain a permanent piece of public art. There is a scale model of this proposed Mastaba in the Serpentine exhibition, showing minuscule insignificant people at its base. (image above from here)
Christo and Jean-Claude's work has divided opinions, and this review is not favourable (although it does also contain a positive review of Tomma Abts' exhibition I wrote about in my last post). I have always thought of the work as admirable: fun, thought-provoking, and cost-free to the public. And I have always greatly admired the preparatory works which are sold to finance the projects.
(image above from here)