Christo and Jeanne-Claude: Barrels and The Mastaba 1958–2018

Serpentine Gallery

19 Jun 2018 to 9 Sep 2018

Christo and Jeanne-Claude: Barrels and The Mastaba 1958–2018

Admission Free

Christo and Jeanne-Claude are celebrated for their ambitious sculptural works that intervene in urban and natural landscapes around the world and temporarily alter both the physical form and visual appearances of sites. This summer, in the heart of London, the Serpentine Galleries presents a major exhibition of the artists’ work, which draws upon their use of barrels to create artworks. Simultaneously, Christo presents The London Mastaba, Serpentine Lake, Hyde Park 2016 - 2018, a temporary floating sculpture on The Serpentine lake. 

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The London Mastaba is Christo’s first outdoor, public work in the UK. The sculpture and exhibition offer an unprecedented opportunity for visitors to experience Christo and Jeanne-Claude’s work. 

Born on the same day in 1935 in Gabrovo, Bulgaria and Casablanca, Morocco respectively, Christo and his late wife Jeanne-Claude, who died in 2009, began their collaboration in 1961 and their many celebrated public projects include Wrapped Coast, Sydney, Australia (1968-69), Wrapped Reichstag, Berlin (1971-1995); The Gates, Central Park, New York City (1979-2005); and more recently The Floating Piers on Italy’s Lake Iseo (2014-2016). 

Many years in the planning, Christo and Jeanne-Claude’s outdoor projects generate an extensive archive of preparatory material detailing the organisation and execution of these projects, and those not yet realised. The Serpentine has worked closely with Christo to develop this new exhibition of sculptures, drawings, collages, scale-models and photographs, which spans six decades. It is the Serpentine’s second collaboration with the artist, following Christo’s participation in the 2016 Miracle Marathon.

Since 1958, barrels have been a dominant feature of Christo and Jeanne-Claude’s sculptures and installations, which they have erected at varying scales internationally. The exhibition offers new perspectives on Christo and Jeanne-Claude’s career to the large-scale, wrapped and fabric-based works for which they are best known. It also traces the origins of this strand of practice, which began with wrapped paint cans and barrels and the artists’ first temporary public installation in Cologne Harbour in 1961.

The Serpentine exhibition is timed to coincide with Christo’s new temporary sculpture nearby, The London Mastaba, Serpentine Lake, Hyde Park 2016 - 2018. The sculpture takes inspiration from mastabas – benches with two vertical sides, two slanted sides and a flat top – which originated with the first ancient civilisations of Mesopotamia. The Serpentine show provides a rich context for this new work, for unrealised barrel projects at sites including the Suez Canal (1967) and MoMA, New York (1968), and plans for Christo and Jeanne-Claude’s most ambitious sculpture yet in the Middle East, which was first conceived in 1977.

A richly-illustrated catalogue by Taschen, titled Christo and Jeanne-Claude: Barrels and the Mastaba 1958-2018, will be published to accompany the exhibition and The London Mastaba in early July, with contributions from Christo, Serpentine Galleries Artistic Director Hans Ulrich Obrist, Paul Goldberger and Adam Blackbourn, and photographs by Wolfgang Volz.

The exhibition is also accompanied by a digital Mobile Tour supported by Bloomberg Philanthropies. The Mobile Tour offers visitors the opportunity to discover more about the exhibition, the sculpture and Christo and Jeanne-Claude’s practice through new audio, video and text content. It also features an interactive map to guide visitors between the various Serpentine sites: Serpentine Gallery, Serpentine Pavilion, Serpentine Sackler Gallery and The London Mastaba. The Mobile Tour is accessible and free for all at sgtours.org.

The London Mastaba, Serpentine Lake, Hyde Park 2016 - 2018
Christo’s first large-scale public sculpture in the UK will float on The Serpentine lake in Hyde Park from 18 June to 23 September. Measuring 20m in height by 30m and 40m, the sculpture consists of 7,506 horizontally stacked barrels, specifically fabricated and painted in shades of red, white, blue and mauve. The proposal for the temporary sculpture included an ecological survey to ensure no damage to the lake or its surroundings. The sculpture is being paid for entirely by the artist and also presents a unique opportunity for enhancements to the conservation area and associated wildlife. As with all of Christo and Jeanne-Claude’s projects, The London Mastaba is funded through the sale of Christo’s original works of art. No public money will be used and Christo does not accept sponsorship.

Please note that attempting to climb onto the London Mastaba is strictly forbidden and safety measures are in place to enforce this at all times. The sculpture is for all to view but public safety is of foremost concern. Lake swimmers and boaters are kindly asked to keep a reasonable distance from the artwork for the safety of everyone. 

From 10 July, The London Mastaba can also be experienced in virtual reality via the Acute Art app for free. Users can reach an elevation of 30m to look down on the temporary sculpture from a bird’s eye view and see it virtually at different times of day, from sunrise to sunset. Visit the Acute Art Museum on Steam or HTC Viveport for the full interactive experience or download the Acute Art app at Apple Store, Google Play or at sgtours.org.

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Related Events / Exhibitions

Live

Serpentine Gallery

Saturday Talks: Melissa Blanchflower on Christo and Jeanne-Claude

7 Jul 2018 - 3:00 PM

Curator, Melissa Blanchflower, leads a tour of Christo and Jeanne-Claude: Barrels and The Mastaba (1958–2018) BSL interpretation is available on request for all our Saturday Talks. Visit our BSL page for more information. 

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Live

Royal Geographical Society

An Evening with Christo

16 Jul 2018 - 7:00 PM

On the occasion of Christo and Jeanne-Claude: Barrels and The Mastaba 1958–2018 at Serpentine Galleries, Christo will talk about works in the exhibition from the last six decades, which also coincides with The London Mastaba, a temporary floating sculpture on The Serpentine lake, the artists’ first large-scale public sculpture in the UK. Following the talk, Christo will be in conversation with Hans Ulrich Obrist, Artistic Director, Serpentine Galleries, and will take questions from the audience.

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Serpentine Gallery

Saturday Talks: Joseph Constable on Christo and Jeanne-Claude

4 Aug 2018 - 3:00 PM

Assistant curator, Joseph Constable, leads a tour of Christo and Jeanne-Claude: Barrels and The Mastaba (1958–2018). BSL interpretation is available on request for all our Saturday Talks. Visit our BSL page for more information. 

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Online

Christo and Jeanne-Claude's 'The London Mastaba' Virtual Reality Experience

18 Jun 2018

Christo and Jeanne-Claude's temporary sculpture, The Mastaba (Project for London, Hyde Park, Serpentine Lake) can be experienced in Virtual Reality through Steam and HTC Viveport for free with a VR headset. 

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Christo talking at the Miracle Marathon 2016

Monday, 9th April 2018
Christo Photo: Wolfgang Volz

Christo Photo: Wolfgang Volz

Christo

Mastaba install 1

Christo and Jeanne-Claude

The London Mastaba, Serpentine Lake, Hyde Park 2016 - 2018

Photo: Wolfgang Volz

CJC web 1

United Arab Emirates, 1979

Christo and Jeanne-Claude during their first trip to the United Arab Emirates

Photo: Wolfgang Volz
XTO signature

XTO signature

Christo, barrels image

Christo and Jeanne-Claude

Wall of Barrels - The Iron Curtain, Rue Visconti, Paris, 1961-62

Courtesy of the artist
Photo: Jean-Dominique Lajoux

Christo, wrapped cans

Christo

Wrapped Cans (Group of seven) 1958

2 wrapped cans, each: 12.5 x 10.5 cm; 4 black cans, each: 12 x 10 cm; 1 painted can: 12.5 x 10.5 cm; rope, lacquered canvas and paint

Courtesy of the artist

© 1958 Christo

Christo exhibition install 2

Christo exhibition install 2

2018
Christo and Jeanne-Claude: Barrels and The Mastaba 1958-2018, Installation view, Serpentine Gallery, London (19 June– 9 September 2018)

CJC web 3

Christo

500,000 Barrels Structure - The Wall in Suez Canal (Project for Temporary Monument Between Israel and Egypt)

Collage 1967, 56 x 71 cm

Pencil, enamel, paint, wax crayon, and photograh

Photo: André Grossmann

Christo, 300 barrels construction image

Christo

303 barrels Construction (Project for Lake Michigan – 1968)

Collage, 1967 47.6 x 54.6 cm

Wax crayon, enamel paint and photostat on card

Courtesy of the artist

© 1967 Christo

Mastaba install 2

Christo and Jeanne-Claude

The London Mastaba, Serpentine Lake, Hyde Park 2016 - 2018

Photo: Wolfgang Volz

CJC web 2

Wrapped Oil Barrels, 1958-59

Group of eighteen barrels, four wrapped

Wrapped barrels: two: 62 x 36.5 cm, one: 64 x 36.5 cm, one: 60 x 36.5 cm,

Fabric, steel wire, lacquer, paint, and oil barrels

Photo: Wolfgang Volz
Christo exhibition install 3

Christo exhibition install 3

2018
Christo and Jeanne-Claude: Barrels and The Mastaba 1958-2018, Installation view, Serpentine Gallery, London (19 June– 9 September 2018)
Christo extra

Christo extra

Christo, The Mastaba (Project for London, Hyde Park, Serpentine Lake), Collage 2018: 43.1 x 55.9, Pencil, wax crayon, enamel paint, colour photograph by Wolfgang Volz, map, technical data, mylar and tape, Photo: André Grossmann © Christo 2018