Art and Design | New York | Photography

The Gates Have Opened!

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I woke up at 7am this morning to head up to Central Park with a friend and see the first of Christo's The Gates unfurled at 8:30. There was a palpable energy at Columbus Circle when we arrived around 8:25.

The fabric banners were still tucked in their cocoons and a swirl of media, photographers, artsy Blue State types, policemen, and volunteers in Christo vests milled around the entrance to the park in anticipation.

It seemed that half the people in Central Park this morning were European. I also saw more dogs than I've ever seen in Central Park before, many of them, like the one above, dressed for the festivities.

Full story after the jump...any use of photos must credit and link Towleroad...

Right on time at 8:30, a volunteer arrived with a long hook in two pieces which she assembled. The crowd began to murmur and gather closely around her.

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As she prepared to release the first banner from its cocoon, the crowd held its collective breath and raised its cameras, microphones, and eyes. I have not felt so much focused energy in a long time.

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There was complete silence and then an orgasmic squeal as she grabbed the Gate's loop with her hook and pulled on the strip of sticky orange tape which held the banner in place across the support.

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A cheer erupted as the first banner unfurled, releasing a long cardboard tube that bounced noisily on the pavement. Each of the banners had been wrapped around one of these tubes.

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One down, 7,499 to go...

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Gate #2...

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And the crowd moved with the Gates as they unfurled...

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Nearby, another volunteer was unfurling more Gates.

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I love a man in uniform.

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There was a woman with a coat and beret covered in hundreds of dice!

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By 9 am it was a circus atmosphere, and then...a police escort turned the corner with the Christomobile. In it, touring the park (and no doubt drinking saffron-colored bottles of Veuve), were Christo and Jean-Claude, waving to onlookers like the king and queen of Central Park.

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The San Remo on Central Park West.

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Another shot of the San Remo.

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The Gates from above...

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The Gates from within...

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All in all, a great day for public art in New York.

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Comments

  1. fantastic. going there next weekend to see it myself. really nice photoessay, andy.

    Posted by: eric m. | Feb 12, 2005 1:29:49 PM


  2. can't wait...next weekend as well!!! Thanks for the photos!

    Posted by: Scott | Feb 12, 2005 1:44:17 PM


  3. awesome job in the photo blog
    i feel like i experienced it
    which I know sounds ridiculous but
    is a compliment to your photo's!

    Posted by: Frank | Feb 12, 2005 1:52:54 PM


  4. great photos, going to go in a few hours myself. There's something about tourists that makes me want to run and hide, needed to avoid at all costs.

    Posted by: Alex Geana | Feb 12, 2005 2:15:52 PM


  5. I'm pretty sure they're all gone now, Alex. It's safe to come out. Just go over to 59th and Fifth.

    Posted by: greg.org | Feb 12, 2005 2:41:39 PM


  6. as an artist i can appreciate the statement...but all in all, it means nothing to me...sorry to say...however, the one thing that does speak to me(or i wish would speak to me) is the cutie with the pole...the 'man in uniform'...how about a photo essay on him...thanks for sharing andy...

    Posted by: bri | Feb 12, 2005 2:49:20 PM


  7. Andy. Andy. Andy. Forgive an ignorant plebeian such as myself who dares cry foul to a bachelor with a Vassar art history degree, but what is at the root (!) of your endless intoxication by Bistro & Yawn-Claude (sic)--the Pet Rocks of the pseudo art world. Only the enormity of their vogue-on the-outside-vague-on-the-inside egos dwarfs their enormous fame and the enormous number of lemmings following them into the sea of meaningless accomplishments. Is it the Size Queen in you, so to speak? Why not praise the large number of animals who died to decorate the bovine bride and bridesmaids at Star Jones sin of a wedding? At least it skirted a sense of glam whereas all that impresses here is so much sensuous saffron in one place. Beyond that, it looks like an endless line of disastrous window treatments for which the factory sent too short curtains. Someone explain to Carson Krusty before he gets the vapors! In draping the doorways [hardly "gates" simply because one passes through them, and because it sounds grander and attempts but fails to echo classical imagery--just as cow dung does not truly echo pie] in such a way to allow people to seamlessly pass under them, Bistro & Yawn are violating their own ethos of momentarily fucking function at the mercy of form. Whether looked at through the lens of evolution, philosophy, physics, geopolitical science, or even Biblical prophecy, all things are related, and the dumbing down, the minimalization, the blood sport of "'modern' 'art'"--whether as seen in Bistro, like a park flasher with a startlingly long dick, or displays of preserved, bisected animals and humans moving from science exhibits to "art" museums--the way has been in preparation for years to the status quo the US now soaks in: the election by an angry, brainwashed herd of a Stepford President--no more seriously substantial that Christo cloth--programmed by the rich, ruling class to dance to their tune and everyone else be damned. In turn, the damned passively proceed with business as usual while the environment, civil liberties, America's standing in the world today and in history books tomorrow, foreign populations, and programs meant to protect the unprotected are raped by Howdy Smirky. Why aren't people, of all kinds, acting up? Where is the outrage? Last weekend they were watching the Super Bowl. This weekend they're strolling under $25 million dollars of orange fabric blowing in the breeze of a beloved buffoon and his blowzy muse. Proving once again, just as GW did after being defeated in his earliest sprints for power, if ya keep coming back again and again, homosapiens and homosexuals will eventually roll over and lift their ass.

    Posted by: Jim | Feb 12, 2005 2:59:20 PM


  8. Huh? Jim... Huh? Pseudo-intellectual gobbletygoop!! One truth in your missive, you are an "ignorant plebeian" and should spend more time analyzing yourself and why you have such a intrinsic lack of joy.

    Posted by: Mike | Feb 12, 2005 3:51:15 PM


  9. ...and wonderment.

    Posted by: Mike | Feb 12, 2005 3:52:30 PM


  10. Jim, Jim, Jim.

    Thanks for sharing.

    Now logoff of your computer, get out & "act up" as much as you need to.

    I think The Gates are beautiful - imagine that?

    Posted by: Mike P | Feb 12, 2005 3:52:46 PM


  11. Did they go with orange to prevent fabric theft?

    Posted by: stan | Feb 12, 2005 3:57:38 PM


  12. Hey Andy;
    I was working the event at Belvedere Tower. I agree; tons of foreigners, scads of dogs with no leashes. This is the greatest city (place) in the world, the whole park was electric. I encountered two cranky people all day after dealing with hundreds. I suggest this tower for some amazing views.
    http://thecoolstore.blogspot.com/

    Posted by: Michael | Feb 12, 2005 4:11:52 PM


  13. I wish that was there last week as I would have loved to have seen this. How long is the installation in place?

    Posted by: Trunkguy | Feb 12, 2005 4:29:53 PM


  14. btw, the fabric was made near my hometown in germany

    Posted by: cs | Feb 12, 2005 5:50:58 PM


  15. The Gates are up 'til February 27th!

    Posted by: Mike P | Feb 12, 2005 7:54:19 PM


  16. Uh, Jim, in your screed (above) you say "Bistro (sic) & Yawn (sic) are violating their own ethos of momentarily fucking function at the mercy of form."

    So I guess other such attempts in which homo sapiens seek to express themselves in ways in which form triumphs over function (like, um, let's say the Pyramids of Giza, the colossal heads on Easter Island or the temporary natural sculptures of Andy Goldsworthy) are meaningless and a waste of time and resources. Gosh you live in a sad, boring world. Lighten up, honey! Enjoy the creations of others.

    Posted by: ericb | Feb 12, 2005 8:09:20 PM


  17. I think this is one of the most amazing things to happen in New York for a long time. We spent several hours walking around the park at dusk.

    I think it's just great. I don't care if it's low-brow.

    Posted by: Eric | Feb 12, 2005 9:08:53 PM


  18. Fashonistas and pseudointellectuals always fall back on the ad hominem and characterizations such as get a life. Even Bistro and Yawn Claude allow others the freedom to dissent from their admitted public mutual masturbation. Save your barbs, bois, for someone who cares. I'll save my own superficial, childlike awe for department store Christmas window displays. The rest, save your money: buy a Pet Rock on ebay and paint in orange.

    Posted by: Jim | Feb 12, 2005 9:46:24 PM


  19. I'll have to admit that like Jim, I spent an awful lot of time making fun of Christo, mostly during my art history courses. But I get it now. I totally get it. These artworks are not meant to be looked at in photographs, even though they do make for some stunning photography. These pieces are meant to be experienced. The visceral reaction to seeing all of these gates (so called because they mirror the form of oriental gates, Jim, see Andy's previous post on the matter:http://towleroad.typepad.com/towleroad/2005/02/gatesmania_cont.html and learn) is an incredible experience. The sound of the fabric in the wind, the color, the overwhelming PRESENCE of it... I get it now. this IS art, and art at its finest. Come to the park and see them for yourself Jim and then see if you still feel the same way.

    Posted by: Cully | Feb 12, 2005 11:15:28 PM


  20. Gosh, Jim, I would love to comment on your post, but I really couldn't get through it, despite my own Art History degree from Vassar. You lost me at Star Jones. It's true that lots of art historians think very little of Christo, but I think I'll go down the street and experience The Gates myself before I pass judgement on them or the artists. I might not travel across the country to see them, but, hey, they are in my backyard. I think it's refreshing that people are so excited about an event in my city that has the potential to be uplifting and positive. It doesn't happen often here. The last event in this city that got this much attention was the Republican Convention, not exactly a ray of sunshine for me.

    Posted by: aaron | Feb 13, 2005 12:41:37 AM


  21. Why dis everyone criticize the President about his 40 million spent at inauguration when I'm sure a lot of money was spent on this and not given to the needy.

    Posted by: John Williams | Feb 13, 2005 12:43:02 AM


  22. THANKS FOR SHARING THESE GREAT PICS ANDY!!!!
    I'm glad you are all settled in NYC...see ya soon...(we miss you in LA)

    Posted by: marcello | Feb 13, 2005 3:50:22 AM


  23. JIM, JIM, JIM, 'What is the root of your endless intoxication' with references to big dicks, long dicks, perverts and sex? Jeeze, you refer to Andy as a 'Size Queen' but after reading your rant-n-rave I have decided that perhaps the one with the phallic obsession is you. It seems you have some issues to work out.

    Relax. It's not often that something happens in NYC that brings so many people of all walks of life together in a peacful way. Enjoy the moment and stop acting like a bitter, repressed Republican.

    Posted by: SternEdwards | Feb 13, 2005 5:44:17 AM


  24. Why dis everyone criticize the President about his 40 million spent at inauguration when I'm sure a lot of money was spent on this and not given to the needy.

    The $40 million raised for Bush's inauguration came from corporations which contributed anywhere from $50,000 to $250,000 each. I agree with many that that money (or some portion of it) could have/should have been donated to the concurrent fundraising efforts for the tsunami relief in South Asia. It would have been a humanitarian and well-deserved diplomatic gesture particularly following on the heels of the original pledge of what many saw as a paltry $15 million.

    Some clarification on "The Gates" project ...

    The $20 million project was originally conceived by Christo & Jeanne-Claude in 1979. They paid for "the entire cost of the artworks themselves…. They do not accept grants or sponsorships of any kind."

    "Many people would like to buy large photos of the completed artworks or posters of preparatory works. In keeping with Christo and Jeanne-Claude's policy of not earning money in this way, no funds from any of these purchases go to Christo and Jeanne-Claude. Hand-signed prints are now available from the not-for-profit, Nurture New York's Nature (associated with the Carriage House Center for Global Issues Foundation). Christo and Jeanne-Claude do not receive payment of any kind from these sales. All proceeds benefit New York's nature and arts. Christo and Jeanne-Claude offer the prints to Nurture New York's Nature as one of their donations to New York City. To purchase, please visit Nurture New York's Nature art prints web-site."

    BTW - New York City expects "an infusion of $80 million in tourism and other spending by people flocking to see "The Gates"...surely an economic impact that will be for the better.

    Posted by: ericb | Feb 13, 2005 9:12:40 AM


  25. thank you for the pics, Andy. they are marvelous! i wish i was in new york right now to see the gates! is it possible that you could send me larger pics? don't worry, they're for personal use only.

    btw, i think this is my first time to post here. i've been such a lurker for the longest time now. the gates have inspired me to speak!

    Posted by: jay | Feb 13, 2005 12:55:22 PM


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