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Renowned artist Christo completes his playful floating platform "The London Mastaba" in Hyde Park

United Kingdom Architecture News - Jun 19, 2018 - 03:28   15402 views

Renowned artist Christo completes his playful floating platform

World-renowned Bulgarian artist Christo has completed his playful temporary floating platform in the Serpentine Lake of London, in collaboration with the Serpentine Galleries.

Called The London Mastaba, the temporary sculpture has been opened to the public today and will be on view until 23 September 2018 in the Serpentine Lake. 

Renowned artist Christo completes his playful floating platform

The London Mastaba is the first major outdoor public work by Christo in the UK, and it coincides with an exhibition at the Serpentine Galleries of Christo and his late wife Jeanne–Claude’s work, which opens 19 June and continues until 9 September 2018.

Christo had shared his preliminary sketches about the installation earlier in April and the platform shows that it was designed exactly the same with the first sketches.  

The sculpture, which consists of 7,506 horizontally stacked barrels on a floating platform in the Serpentine Lake, is made of interlocking high-density polyethylene (HDPE) cubes and is held in place with 32 6-tonne anchors.

Renowned artist Christo completes his playful floating platform

The barrel-supporting substructure consists of scaffolding and a steel frame that connects to the floating platform. The sculpture’s total weight is 600 tonnes and its footprint takes up approximately 1% of the total surface area of the lake.

"For three months, The London Mastaba will be a part of Hyde Park's environment in the centre of London," said Christo. 

"The colours will transform with the changes in the light and its reflection on the Serpentine Lake will be like an abstract painting. It has been a pleasure to work with The Royal Parks to realize The London Mastaba and with our friends at the Serpentine Galleries to create an exhibition showing Jeanne-Claude’s and my 60-year history of using barrels in our work," he added.

Renowned artist Christo completes his playful floating platform

"The Serpentine is known for pushing artistic boundaries and celebrating bold experimentation — and that is the spirit that Christo and Jeanne-Claude exemplify," said Michael R. Bloomberg, Serpentine Galleries Chair. 

"As a free museum, the Serpentine is also a fitting place to celebrate two of the greatest public artists of our time. Public art draws people together, starts conversations and attracts visitors who support local businesses and generate revenue for cities. The London Mastaba is sure to bring these benefits to London, just as The Gates did in New York City."

Renowned artist Christo completes his playful floating platform

All construction materials are certified as having low environmental impact to preserve the ecosystem of the lake. The removal of the sculpture will begin on 23 September 2018. 

While some equipment and materials, such as scaffolding, have been rented and will be returned, the other materials will be removed and industrially recycled in the UK following the project. The London Mastaba is being entirely funded by Christo, through the sale of his original works of art. No public money is used for Christo’s projects and he does not accept sponsorship.

Renowned artist Christo completes his playful floating platform

On top of the floating platform, workers install the steel frame of the London Mastaba, April 2018

The construction of Christo’s temporary sculpture began on 3 April 2018 by JK Basel, Deep Dive Systems, and Coventry Scaffolding as well as a team of engineers from Schlaich Bergermann Partner. The London Mastaba consists of 7,506 horizontally stacked barrels on a floating platform, 20 metres (65.5 ft) high x 30 metres (90 ft) wide (at the 60° slanted walls) x 40 metres (130 ft) long. 

Renowned artist Christo completes his playful floating platform

Barrels being installed on the slanted wall of the London Mastaba, May 2018

Standard 55 gallon barrels, 59 x 88 cm (2 ft x 3 ft), were fabricated and painted for the sculpture. The sides of the barrels, visible on the top and on the two slanted walls of the sculpture, are red and white. The ends of the barrels, visible on the two vertical walls, are blue, mauve and a different hue of red.

Renowned artist Christo completes his playful floating platform

Workers installing barrels on the vertical side of the London Mastaba, May 2018

"In keeping with our mission to realise the possibilities of art and architecture, the Serpentine exhibition has been thoughtfully curated to coincide with The Mastaba (Project for London, Hyde Park, Serpentine Lake)," said Yana Peel, CEO and Hans Ulrich Obrist, Artistic Director, Serpentine Galleries.

"Christo’s project will challenge where art can be encountered and by whom and – together with the Serpentine show – provides the UK public with an unprecedented insight into Christo and Jeanne-Claude's work. We hope this combined experience will be a highlight of London’s summer of 2018 in the open landscape of Hyde Park and Kensington Gardens."

Renowned artist Christo completes his playful floating platform

The Serpentine Galleries presents Christo and Jeanne-Claude: Barrels and The Mastaba 1958-2018, the first major public exhibition by the artists in the UK since 1979. Through sculptures, drawings, collages, photographs and models, it traces the artists’ sixty-year- history of using barrels and provides a historic context to The London Mastaba situated close by. 

The exhibition offers new perspectives on the artists’ career by exploring the origins of their earliest wrapped works and temporary sculptures, alongside proposals for barrel projects at sites such as the Suez Canal (1967) and the Museum of Modern Art, New York (1968). It also includes drawings for Christo and Jeanne-Claude’s most ambitious mastaba yet, The Mastaba (Project for United Arab Emirates), which was first conceived in 1977 and, if realised, would be the world’s largest sculpture. A catalogue by Taschen will be published to accompany the exhibition and The London Mastaba in early July.

All images © Wolfgang Volz

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