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‘Boundless’ at Saatchi Gallery – An Insightful Showcase on Christo and Jeanne-Claude, Pioneers in Sculpture

CREDIT: Christo and Jeanne-Claude Foundation / VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn, 2022

Staff Writer Meghana Praveen reviews the Saatchi Gallery exhibition ‘Boundless’

Boundless commemorates the work of Christo and Jeanne-Claude, collaborators and life partners, responsible for the renowned wrapping of monuments and landscapes across the world. Visitors of the exhibition, not unlike myself, go into it with a curiosity of what it will contain, is it going to just be images of their large-scale projects? Upon entering the first exhibition room we are greeted with saffron walls and an empty space. This choice of colour is quite intentional and becomes clear to visitors as they walk through the exhibition, realising that saffron was used as the colour for fabric in two of their most famous projects ‘Valley Curtain’ and ‘The Gates’. The years of negotiation, working out logistics and legal work, along with fundraising, largely carried out by Jeanne- Claude, are given the spotlight in “Boundless”. Their commitment to funding their works themselves, quite rare in the art world, was also explored. The study into Christo’s past was expository.

The exhibition followed the journey of the collaborators to becoming the the creators of the large-scale works we know today. It follows the journey of Christo staring off as a painter and then experimenting with multi-media pieces, being inspired by his contemporaries. The relationship with his contemporaries is made clear to visitors as we see their pieces side by side, making it clear what parts were taken from whom. We get an insight into the couple’s mind and artistic process; with the pieces they were inspired by right next to the pieces they created. The exhibition contains pieces by Klein, Arman and Cesar, and explores how these artists contributed to the development of the couple’s artistic vocabulary, sparking the idea to move into a larger-scale. Lucio Fontana experimentation with spatial concepts provide the perfect segue way into Christo’s artworks extending outside the canvas. 

It also explores Christo’s participation in the art group KWY that had an immense impact on the Portuguese art scene with its free-spirited and collaborative approach to art, in an attempt to break away from academicism. This section makes us ponder the distinction of art vs instruction, a criticism that follows the couple’s careers even after their deaths. The exhibition invokes thought about how to create meaningful public art and how art responds to and impacts our relationship with the built environment. 

Boundless ends with a model of the yet unrealised Mastaba in Abu Dhabi Next to one of Christo’s first larger wrapped projects Wrapped Volkswagen Beetle Saloon, 1963–2014, providing a comparison of scale – how far their collaboration and hard work has taken them.

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