Preview of the ‘Over the River’ Project

October 10, 2008 Updated: October 17, 2008

WASHINGTON, D.C.—Artists Christo and Jeanne-Claude expounded on freedom of their art and the process of its creation at a luncheon at the National Press Club on Oct. 6 in promotion of their current preview exhibition “Christo and Jeanne-Claude: Over the River, a Work in Progress” which opens Oct. 11 at the Philips Collection, in Washington , D.C.

The exhibition features 200 items that trace the development of the project over the last 16 years, and includes drawings, photographs, and technical diagrams. The“ Over the River” exhibition is anticipated to be on display in Colorado for two weeks in the summer of 2012, at the earliest.

The “Over the River” project is another of Christo and Jeanne-Claude’s large temporary outdoor installations; the Gates, Central Park, New York City in 2005, being their latest displayed. In “Over the River,” the artists plan to suspend silvery fabric panels horizontally over the Arkansas River in Colorado. The panels will be suspended 25 feet above  water and follow the course of the river.

“The reason we chose the Arkansas River is because it’s the most rafted in the United States”, said Christo. “It will take about five hours to raft inside of the project.”

Christo and Jeanne-Claude spoke to the luncheon attendees,  including Skip Kaltenheuser (independent writer at Gatsby Magazine), Richard Dunham (Washington bureau chief of the Houston Chronicle), and Larry Arnold (editor at Bloomberg).

 “Each project has its origin and each project has its own story,” said Christo. “These projects carry total freedom. They are works of art. Nobody can buy these projects; nobody can commercialize or buy tickets for these projects. Even ourselves we don’t own these projects. We are borrowing space. And we inherit all these meaningful elements to be part of the work of art, “ said Christo.

“The quality of love and tenderness we wish to give to our work of art as an additional aesthetic quality,” said Jeanne-Claude.

“For more than 40 years Christo and Jeanne-Claude’s projects have transcended the traditional boundaries of art, profoundly shaping the way in which we see and experience our environment,“ said Director of the Phillips Collection, Dorothy Kosinski, in a press release.

The “Over the River” project has required a lengthy permitting process working closely with nearby communities, local governments, the U.S. Bureau of Land Management, the Colorado Department of Transportation, and other agencies. The $40 million dollar project will be paid for entirely by the artists.

Christo and Jean-Claude were both born on June 13, 1935—he in then Communist Bulgaria to an industrialist family, and she in Morocco to a French military family.

The Phillips Collection is America’s first museum of Modern Art with a collection of modern American and European Art. The museum produces and organizes acclaimed special exhibitions many of which travel nationally and internationally, award winning in depth education programs for youth and adults and hosts concerts. The Philips museum in Washington, D.C. is a private non-government museum supported by donations and public funds.