dates 17.11.2021 – 21.11.2021


A rare group of Christo works on paper will be on offer as part of Colnaghi’s presentation at Abu Dhabi Art, on view from November 17 until 21, 2021 at Manarat Al Saadiyat. This presentation is possible through the collaboration and support of Alessandro Possati of Zuecca Projects and Christopher Taylor, alongside the Estate of Christo and Jeanne Claude.


Christo: Works on Paper comprises eleven drawings produced by the artist from the late 70s until the early 2000s, which constitute preparatory drawings for an array of architectural projects, including the not yet realised Mastaba of Abu Dhabi, Project for United Arab Emirates, 1979, as well as The Umbrellas, Project for Japan and USA, 1990, and Surrounded Islands, Project for Biscayne Bay, Greater Miami, Florida, 1981. These works highlight the key role drawing played in both the genesis and final completion of Christo’s monumental civic projects.


Space and architecture became more and more predominant in Christo’s work following his and Jeanne-Claude’s move to New York in 1964, to the point that his approach to the artistic practice changed. “At the Academy of Fine Arts, I studied architecture and I loved this discipline. I think it shows in my work. At more than 80 years of age, I look at our work with Jeanne-Claude and I see that architecture is very present. It made me think differently than painting or sculpture.” Temporary projects set in urban or natural contexts required long preparation and a highly technical approach, less visceral than early, smaller wrappings or pictorial experimentations. In his drawings, Christo mastered the rules for making academic art, then subverted them, creating inventive collages in which traditional materials – pencil, charcoal, pastel – naturally blend with unorthodox ones – industrial paint, plastic, fabric, string, masking tape – as they were a concerto of perfectly intonated voices.


From the “skeletal and problematic” initial sketches to the hyperdetailed and ultra-descriptive final drawings, these “preparatory works” as Christo would define them, are part of what he termed a “growing process”. Complex and long, this process consisted of negotiations with administrators and government officials to obtain permissions, discussions with residents and local associations to calm fears and counter objections, and consultations with engineers and craftsmen on the project’s technical development and implementation. It allowed him to adjust and refine his ideas, which would influence his drawing and, in turn, have a powerful impact on the project’s conception.


Christo’s final preparatory works so accurately predict the realised project, that they appear to mirror its definitive state. As a path to reality, drawings such as became the history and the archive of each project. It is with a drawing that the journey begins.


These important Christo’s works will be shown alongside a fantastical triptych by Raqib Shaw, The Piranesi Triptych, 2008.




Pic. 1: Christo, Abu Dhabi Mastaba, Project for the United Arab Emirates, 1978. Image courtesy of  Estate of Christo V. Javacheff



Alessandro Possati:




dates 17.11.2021 – 21.11.2021



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