“It is Like Going to the Heavens”: Environmental Art Icon Christo on Creating the Largest Sculpture in the World

This post was selected for inclusion in our Future of Art and Work series in December 2016. The series, sponsored by Microsoft Surface, selects some of our best posts exploring the topics of how art and work will look in the 21st century. This post was originally published in May, 2016. 


The environmental canvas of Christo and longtime collaborator Jeanne-Claude has taken the artists — famed for their large-scale “wrapping” projects and the nearly 7,000 gates with saffron-colored fabric installed in New York City’s Central Park — from Australia, Japan, and the Rocky Mountains, to the Pont Neuf in Paris and the Parliament steps in Berlin.

Now, nearly seven years after Jeanne-Claude’s death in 2009, Christo embarks on a solo venture to complete several works in progress, including The Mastaba, an ambitious project originally conceived in 1977 with Jeanne-Claude. Created from 410,000 stacked multicolored oil barrels, the massive flat-roof structure will be the largest sculpture in the world.

From June 4 to November 27, Christo will create another monumental mastaba (topping at 9m x 17m x 9m) for the Maeght Foundation in the French museum’s Giacometti courtyard. The exhibition will catalog other barrel works by Christo and Jeanne-Claude, a material Christo has used since 1958, while an entire room will be dedicated to cataloging the planned Abu Dhabi mastaba.

Flavorwire spoke to Christo about his difficult beginnings with Jeanne-Claude in 1960’s New York City, his epic works created entirely outside the museum and gallery system, and the astonishing feat of The Mastaba.