/ The DC Traveler
Washington DC — By Jon Rochetti on March 20, 2010 at 11:20 pm
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Is it Art or Just a Huge Fabric Fence?

Christo and Jeanne-Claude: Remembering the Running Fence, the newest exhibit opening April 2nd at the Smithsonian American Art Museum in Washington DC is a collection of artifacts, artwork and documentation of the historic art project “Running Fence, Sonoma and Marin Counties, California, 1972-76.

The collection also includes drawings, collages, photographs and more from all aspects artists Christo and Jeanne-Claude most famous piece.

The couple are most recently remembered for their environmental art piece in New York’s Central Park.  There, the artists installed over 7,500 yellow nylon “gates” along 23 miles (37 km) of walking paths throughout the park.  The exhibit, on display for a couple weeks in 2005, was yet another major installation by the pair.

TL.18.2008.208 001

Running Fence, Sonoma and Marin Counties, California, 1972-76”  was an 18-foot tall fabric fence that transversed 24½ miles (39.4 km) of California costal canyons running to the Pacific Ocean.  The piece was  was up for just two weeks in September 1976 after the artists took 42 months to conceive the project and to negotiate land use rights with close to 60 California ranchers.  Additional barriers included dealing with mostly uncooperative and bureaucratic local governments.

When finally completed, the temporary installation used 240,000 square yards of white fabric held in place with 350,000 hooks and 90 miles of steel cable, spanning 2,000 poles.  Like much of the couple’s other work, the art was momentary, being visible for only a short period of time, then becoming just a memory.

The TL.18.2008.85 001Smithsonian’s collection of 350 pieces was acquired by the museum in 2008, most of which will be on display. It includes 46 original drawings and collages by Christo, including eight large-scale (8-foot wide) drawings, plus a 58-foot-long scale model.

More than 240 photographs also illustrate the complexity of the construction process, with multiple 22-feet-wide high-def images of the “Running Fence” will be projected at the entrance to the exhibit.  A nylon fabric panel and steel pole from the actual project will also be on view.

Free public programs about the exhibit and the artists include the:

  • Movie premiere of The “Running Fence” Revisited, followed by a conversation with Christo, and the film’s co-producer Wolfram Hissen, on Friday, April 2nd, at 7:00 p.m. in the museum’s McEvoy Auditorium.  Free tickets will be distributed (G St. lobby) starting at 6:00.
  • Film Running Fence (1978) on Thursday, April 8, at 6:30 p.m., and Christo in Paris (1986) (McEvoy Auditorium – No tickets required, but first come, first served.)
  • Running Fence Gallery Talk on Tuesday April 13, at 5:30 p.m., led by the museum’s Deputy Chief Curator George Gurney.
  • Films Christo’s Valley Curtain (1973) and Umbrellas (1994) on Thursday,on Thursday, April 29, at 6:30 p.m. in the McEvoy Auditorium.

Christo and Jeanne-Claude: Remembering the Running Fence
Smithsonian American Art Museum
8th and F Streets, NW, 3rd floor
Washington DC  (map it)

Dates & Times - April 2 through September 26, 2010 , 11:30 a.m. – 7:00 p.m. daily

Admission - Museum and exhibit admission is free.

Nearest Metro Subway Station – Gallery Place-Chinatown – Red, Yellow and Green lines, then a 1-block walk, or use the DC Circulator bus.

Parking – Limited metered street parking and area paid garage parking is available.

Images – courtesy of Smithsonian American Art Museum – blowing  fabric – Christo and Jeanne-Claude, Running Fence, Sonoma and Marin Counties, California 1972-76, ©Christo Photograph by Wolfgang Volz.  Erected fence – Christo and Jeanne-Claude, Running Fence, Sonoma and Marin Counties, California 1972-76, ©Christo, Photograph by Wolfgang Volz, September 10-20, 1976, Color photograph.

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