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A New Floating Structure by Christo Coming to London's Hyde Park!

  • A close up drawing of Christo’s “The Mastaba”, a new 2018 work in London
June 18, 2018
A philosophy graduate interested in theory, politics and art. Alias of Jelena Martinović.

After the Westminster Council approved the scheme, granting planning permission, the acclaimed conceptual and installation artist Christo will create his latest installation in London’s Hyde Park.

A Mastaba-shaped sculpture, trapezoidal structures that originated in Mesopotamia, the piece will be made up of 7,506 oil barrels placed on a platform of plastic cubes and float on the Serpentine lake behind Kensington Palace during the summer.

The installation is associated with his upcoming major show due to open at Serpentine Galleries in a few months that will feature sculptures, drawings and photographs from the past 50 years by Christo and his late partner Jeanne-Claude.

The Mastaba London Christo
Christo – The Mastaba (Project for London, Hyde Park, Serpentine Lake), 2018. Collage, pencil, wax crayon, enamel paint, color photograph, by Wolfgang Volz, technical data, map, mylar and tape. Photo by André Grossmann © 2018 Christo

The Hyde Park Mastaba

Working in large-scale and thinking big, Christo and Jeanne-Claude are responsible for some of the most influential pieces of land art, presenting a different approach to the environment and raising our expectations of it.

Long interested in mastabas, Christo designed a Texas mastaba in 1975 and is planning on building a permanent one in Abu Dhabi, claiming to become the largest art structure in the world.

The temporary one in Hyde Park will be unveiled around June 20th, standing about 65 feet tall and weighing 500 tons while being anchored to one spot. As the artist himself commented, the exciting part of the project is “that it’s detached from the urban landscape”.

Taking on the colors of Britain’s flag – blue, red and white – but also purple, the work will use 50 times fewer barrels than the planned Abu Dhabi version.

The Mastaba London Christo
Christo – The Mastaba (Project for London, Hyde Park, Serpentine Lake), 2018. Collage, pencil, wax crayon, enamel paint, color photograph, by Wolfgang Volz, technical data, map, mylar and tape. Photo by André Grossmann © 2018 Christo

The First Project in the UK

While Christo has been creating projects all over the world, including The Gates in Manhattan’s Central Park, the wrapping of the Reichstag in Berlin or the latest floating piers in Italy, this will be his first project created in the UK.

Conceiving the project in October 2016, the artist tested its feasibility by building a model a tenth of the scale in the Black Sea off the coast of Bulgaria, his home country.

Costing $4.2 million dollars, the project will be entirely funded by the artist through the sale of his art, as was the case with each of his previous projects.

The workers screw together the cubes and pins to form the floating platform
The workers screw together the cubes and pins to form the floating platform. Photo by Wolfgang Volz

Christo and Jeanne-Claude Art Exhibition at Serpentine Galleries, London

The Serpentine Galleries is working closely with the artist to develop an exhibition of sculptures, drawings and photographs spanning more than 50 years. The Mastaba will be on view from 18 June (weather permitting) to 23 September 2018.

The temporary sculpture will coincide with an exhibition at the Serpentine Galleries of Christo and Jeanne–Claude’s work, between 19 June and 9 September 2018, which will include sculptures, drawings, collages and photographs spanning more than 60 years.

Floating Piers in Italy, Christo’s previous installation, was the world’s most-visited work of art in 2016. Completely transforming the landscape of Lake Iseo located near Milan, it consisted of 100,000 square meters of shimmering yellow fabric, carried by a modular floating dock system of 220,000 high-density poly-ethylene cubes. Forming a walkway that was 3km long, 16 meters wide and approximately 35 centimeters high, the installation allowed people to walk freely across it.

Positioning of the London Mastaba

Featured image: Christo – The Mastaba (Project for London, Hyde Park, Serpentine Lake), 2018. Drawing in two parts, pencil, charcoal, wax crayon, enamel paint, hand-drawn map on vellum, technical data and tape. Photo by André Grossmann © 2017 Christo.