Artist Christo has unveiled is next project for London: he plans to construct a floating “Mastaba” structure in London’s Hyde Park.
The structure could reach more than 20 meters (65 feet) in height. The New York Times reports that the temporary design, to be made from 7,506 oil barrels, will float on the Serpentine Lake, behind Kensington Palace. “The exciting part of the project is that it’s detached from the urban landscape” says Christo. “You have this incredible vegetation and open area.”
Christo is a man with big ambitions. Along with his late wife Jeanne-Claude, he is best known for his projects which see bridges, government buildings and entire islands wrapped in in fabric. He also filled New York’s Central Park with over 7,000 bright orange gates, and installed more than 2,000 giant umbrellas across California and Tokyo.
But Christo’s most ambitious project is still to come. Having worked with oil barrels since the 1950s, the artist has been planning to build the world’s biggest sculpture in the Abu Dhabi desert. Consisting of 410,000 barrels stacked in a trapezoid over 150 metres tall, the work will be the first of the artist’s to remain in situ. It is named Mastaba after the front benches outside homes in ancient Mesopotamia – the first of the world’s urban civilisations found in modern day Iraq.
“We initially wanted to build it in Texas, then Holland, but both times we were refused,” says Christo. “Then a collector, who happened to be the French Foreign Secretary, flew us to Abu Dhabi in 1972. We saw a site and decided to do it there.” A version of the work is set to be floated on London’s Serpentine lake after Westminster Council agreed in January 2018. The piece will form part of an exhibition at the nearby Serpentine Gallery.
As for the work being shown in Belgium, Christo clearly has one thing on his mind. “It’s a hugely important piece that illustrates the beginning of my career. A museum should buy it, and the money will finance Mastaba.” The asking price? “$16 million. And that’s not a secret.”
In 2016, Christo completed a floating dock wrapped in shimmering yellow fabric that connected various points on Italy’s Lake Iseo. Early last year, Christo cancelled plans for a monumental installation over the Arkansas River to focus on their only permanent large-scale work: another Mastaba-shaped structure planned for Abu Dhabi — in the cover image.
Image by Christo and Jeanne-Claude