There are 7,500 16-foot-tall gates consisting of 1,067,330 square feet of saffron fabric that cover 23 miles of pathways in Christo and Jeanne-Claude's The Gates, an art exhibit currently on display in New York City's Central Park. But they won't be there much longer.
The entirely self-financed $21 million piece brought close to one million visitors to Central Park on opening weekend, and the park has experienced a steady stream of visitors ever since. It is scheduled to be disassembled on Monday.
Among the crowds touring The Gates have been many Penn students and faculty members who happened to be in Manhattan or made the two-hour trip specifically for the purpose of seeing the art exhibit.
College junior Olivia Lindquist first learned about Christo in a 12th-grade art history course and has followed the development of The Gates ever since.
"I loved it -- I loved how it brought everybody out. It was just complete joy in Central Park in a drab month," said Lindquist, who spent this past Saturday touring the park with her mother.
However, Lindquist's friend Syed Ansar, who saw The Gates separately, was not nearly as impressed.
"It's a cool concept, but it's not exactly aesthetically pleasing," said Ansar, who compared the piece to the fable of The Emperor's Clothes. "Nobody really knows why it's really that beautiful."
Ansar added that he liked many aspects of design and modern art -- just not this particular piece.
But while Ansar was not the only one who failed to appreciate The Gates, it appears that a majority of the audience was impressed.
Liz Kelly, the director of the visual arts and contemporary culture program on the 22nd floor of Harrison College House, organized a group of 20 students to see The Gates this past Sunday.
"There was significant interest in the house -- not just on the floor, but from all students," said Kelly. "It was really a beautiful thing that people enjoyed seeing."
Other members of the Penn community approached The Gates with an academic or professional perspective.
Art History professor Karen Beckman had a chance to see the exhibition earlier this week.
"I liked the way it made people part of the installation," said Beckman, who recently examined site-specific art like The Gates in a class she taught. "I thought that I was thinking very actively coming into the park."
Beckman mentioned that many art critics are becoming increasingly concerned about the impact or lack of impact that sight specific works have on audiences.
"There is a growing sense that site-specific art has become aligned with commercial interests where it used to be a form of radical intervention," Beckman said.
However, while Beckman noted the numerous commercial benefits that the city received through this self-financed work, she does not think that consequential tourism takes away from the impact the work has on the space.
While Christo has a very strong group of supporters within the arts community who come from around the world to view and help set up his works, most of the viewers of The Gates do not have extensive backgrounds in art.
"My mom and I were talking. ... Perhaps going in with no knowledge would make it more amazing," Lindquist said. "You could tell that all the children there really got it -- it's just fun and being happy."Comments powered by Disqus
Please note All comments are eligible for publication in The Daily Pennsylvanian.