The artist’s first major environmental project, Wrapped Coast – One Million Square Feet, was in 1968-69 at Little Bay, Sydney. Created by the iconic artist and his wife Jeanne-Claude, and the first in the Kaldor Public Art Projects, it took place more than a decade before he gained world-wide fame for large-scale environmental projects.
Wrapped Coast was the largest single artwork that had ever been made. The scale was so vast that no one vantage point allowed a complete view; instead, visitors walked across the two-and-a-half kilometres of coast and cliffs up to 26 metres high which were shrouded in fabric and rope. It appeared like a moonscape, an out-of-world terrain which was continuously transformed by sweeping winds.
“Christo and Jean Claude’s Wrapped Coast brought land art to Australia and with it a new paradigm, one where Australian artists began to develop audiences outside the hegemonic systems of commercial and institutional galleries,” said Andrew Lavery, Director Sydney College of the Arts. “The spatial and site specific elements of Christo’s practise have had a profound influence on Australian contemporary art.”
Over fifty years, Christo and Jeanne-Claude became famous for their environmental projects and literally wrapped the world including Valley Curtain, Grand Hogback, Rifle, Colorado, 1970–72; Running Fence, Sonoma and Marin Counties, California, 1972–76; Surrounded Islands, Biscayne Bay, Greater Miami, Florida, 1980–83; The Pont Neuf Wrapped, Paris, 1975–85; The Umbrellas, Japan–USA, 1984–91; Wrapped Reichstag, Berlin, 1971–95 and The Gates, Central Park, New York City, 1979–2005.
Christo and Jeanne-Claude have always made clear that their artworks in progress be continued after their deaths. Per Christo’s wishes, L’Arc de Triomphe, Wrapped in Paris, France, is still on track for 18 September – 3 October 2021.
Image: Christo directs workers and volunteers to create Wrapped Coast – One Million Square Feet, Little Bay, Sydney, Australia, 1968 – 69 / photo by Harry Shunk