Connection Between Gates and Canopies for First Night 78?
Canopies for First Night 78 copyright Hera January 1, 1978
2 canopies 250' long x 10' wide commissioned by First Night
nylon spinnaker cloth procession rehearsal on Boston Common
A couple of months ago I spoke to Christo when he was giving a talk at
Cooper Union. I asked him when he designed the Gates. His answer was
1979. Then I asked if he remembered seeing my "Canopies for First Night
78" at Midnight on the Boston Common January 1, 1978, and if he
remembered asking me questions about how I "made them work." He was
unwilling to answer my questions and hurried away....The truth of the
matter is that he was (to put it tactfully) inspired by seeing the Canopies.
In today's art world, people do not acknowledge sources for their work
as was the tradition in the arts for centuries. I have discussed this
with artists and critics, supporters and friends. The last artist that
they remember giving attribution was De Kooning. At their encouragement,
I am sending images of the source of Christo's piece (the "Canopies for
First Night 78") to appropriate critics.
Christo's Gates are a static take-off from the fluidity of the two 250'
long 10' wide nylon spinnaker cloth Canopies which I designed. This
stasis is predictable when one takes a design which was meant for fluid
movement and makes it stationary. On First Night the Canopies were
carried from two different directions to meet at the Boston Common at
midnight. They were a huge hit. Revelers were so eager to be a part of
the action that they took the Canopies away from the 60 bearers I had
chosen, and carried the Canopies themselves. There were thousands of
people on the Common that night. The Canopies were written up in all the
Boston papers, Time magazine, and by Lucy Lippard in the November 1981
issue of Art in America: "Another outlet is the community festival like
those...by Hera, whose First Night '78 consisted of a canopied sculpture
accompanied by a torchlit procession through the Boston Common on New
In 1982 Parks Commissioner Gordon Davis wrote a 251 page official
refusal to have The Gates based on solid environmental concerns. Our
current political climate admires business and development. In this
atmosphere The Gates are more acceptable. The great part of the appeal
of The Gates lies in the huge publicity effort Bloomberg has carried
out. As we know all too well, people are much more comfortable going
with a name brand.
As a responsible artist who believes in attribution of artistic sources,
I feel it is appropriate for Christo to credit the Canopies for First
Night '78 as the source of his inspiration. Anyone is free to use the
enclosed photo if attribution is given: "The Canopies for First Night
78" copyright Hera 1978... designer/sculptor/procession leader.
Thanks for your interest.
Please feel free to call or e-mail me with any questions you may have.
145 Cold Brook Road
Bearsville, NY 12409
hera @ netstep.net
(845) 679-4439 vox
(845) 679-4441 fax