Nightline on The Gates Fri., February 11th
THE GATES, CENTRAL PARK
Feb. 11, 2005
You may have heard of the artists Christo and Jeanne-Claude, but if
not, perhaps you remember the wrapped Reichstag in Germany, the 1,600
yellow umbrellas dotting the California mountainside, or, the islands
off of Miami surrounded with flamingo pink floating fabric. On
Saturday, the artists will finally realize their 19th project: The
Gates, Central Park.
Christo and Jeanne-Claude are, if nothing else, unique.
Jeanne-Claude, with her fire orange hair, speaks in tandem with her
husband, often interrupting to finish a thought. Born on the same day
in 1935, they live and work in their five-story studio residence in
lower Manhattan, which also serves as a gallery for the sale of
Christo's preparatory works.
Interested in a small collage of The Gates? $20,000. The largest?
$600,000. But Christo and Jeanne-Claude do not drive around in fancy
cars, wear expensive clothes, nor do they seem to indulge frequently
in many of the expected luxuries money can provide. But they are far
from spendthrifts. If you live in New York, you may have already seen
the beginnings of their current $21 million expenditure: 7,500
saffron-colored rectangular arches, called Gates, are now installed
along 23 miles of Central Park's pathways. And Saturday morning,
fabric panels of the same color will be unfurled from their velcro
cocoons, creating an even greater explosion of color in the midst of
the park's normally subdued February landscape.
The Gates have been for the artists a 26-year pursuit; they first
proposed the project in 1979. At that time, however, Central Park,
like much of New York City, was in a state of disrepair. But New York
is not the only thing that has changed since the artists began
dreaming of The Gates. The Gates, too, have changed, and the artists
have their engineer, Vince Davenport, to thank. He has overseen the
details of their project and made their lofty vision, which he's
called a "logistical nightmare," come to life.
Regardless of whether you enjoy their art or not, you can't deny the
Herculean effort by a cast of literally thousands required to make
this project a reality. The artists enlisted the work of seven
different manufacturers on the East Coast, a fabric company in
Germany, and hired almost 600 workers for the final installation of
The Gates. And, all those strolling through Christo's Gates in Central
Park over the next 16 days ... they, too, will be part of this public
work of art.
"Nightline" has followed the artists and watched the logistics of the
massive project progress over the last nine months. Tonight, we'll
bring you a slice of the artists' lives, as we preview The Gates.
We hope you'll join us.
Courtney King & the "Nightline" Staff
ABC News Washington Bureau