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Christo, Monuments and Projects, 1968
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Monuments and Projects, 1968
Lithograph and offset lithograph
Hand signed, dated and numbered 5/100 by Christo on the lower left front
23.25 x 18.5 inches
This hand signed and numbered offset lithograph is one of the more elusive and desirable early Christo exhibition invitations, published on the occasion of his groundbreaking exhibition at the ICA in Philadelphia, when Christo was only 33.
"...By mid-September 1968, Christo's attention focused on Monuments and Projects, his one-man exhibition opening October 4 at the University of Pennsylvania's Institute of Contemporary Art. It included earlier work and four on-site projects: 1,240 Oil Barrels Mastaba, Two Tons of Wrapped Hay, Two Wrapped Trees, and Seven Wrapped Women.
Suzanne Delehanty, the assistant of ICA director Stephen Prokopoff, remembered: "I had to round up fifteen hundred-plus oil barrels, the equivalent of five freight cars full. They were to construct a truncated pyramid in our large fifty-by-fifty-foot gallery. Getting them wasn't easy. It meant disrupting oil companies' operations, since drums are needed at every stage of the delivery cycle. The materials Christo chose engaged this invisible system. Negotiations for loaning barrels were made with various companies by Stephen and Nathaniel Lieb, an ICA board member. I remember that one company wouldn't lend, but insisted on selling their barrels to us; after we returned them, they would give a refund—it was their way of doing a loan receipt. I had to convince the university business office not to worry about the ten- or fifteen-thousand-dollar invoice. We borrowed oil barrels from several companies: some did a straight loan based on an exchange of letters; others used their own system of inventory control. It was fascinating."
While the multicolored oil barrels were stacked to form a massive mastaba in the ICA ground-floor entry gallery, two other works, Two Wrapped Trees and Two Tons of Wrapped Hay, took shape on the level above. The installation crew, paid M.F.A. students, alternated between unloading barrels and making forays into the countryside to gather bales of hay. Suzanne Delehanty reflected, "The bales of hay were stacked, creating a bulky structure, covered with tarpaulin and tied with rope."
Another ICA work lasted only a few hours. When dinner guests arrived, seven wrapped female nudes awaited them. Each had been placed on a pedestal. Harry Shunk and János Kender documented the process and photographed Jeanne-Claude, Christo, and Cyril alongside a wrapped woman. Delehanty observed, "Some people thought that the packaged women were absolutely phenomenal. Others were quite distressed; they didn't think it was art and called it an outrage. Some were amused. A few guests were concerned about the women perspiring too much. They had no ventilation. Lots of attention was given to bringing them drinks. They remained wrapped, reclining on pedestals all through dinner."
Excerpt from the book Christo and Jeanne-Claude: A Biography by Burt Chernow, published in 2002. Text edited in 2021.
The ICA curator Stephen Prokopoff wrote of the exhibition:
The fundamental sensibility and concerns of Christo’s art were evident almost from his first independent efforts, and while they have not changed radically since that time, they have broadened and deepened and have found more cogent and certain form. Because Christo found his imaginative way early, like many of his contemporaries in a precocious post-war generation, one now writes of this artist in his thirty-third year not as the possessor of talent and promise but as the recognized creator of a substantial, exceptionally innovative and masterful body of work that spans a full decade of accomplishment.