The Gates: Lets Discuss

So today was the official inaguration of "The Gates" in Central Park. What do people think... good, bad, ugly?

I personally think it's a bit stiff.... I liked it more without the curtains. Now it looks like a construction site. Maybe it's the material of the fabric... which itself is "stiff".

Feb 12, 05 7:36 pm

hmmm.... I still gotta go see it! I'm so curious!

Feb 12, 05 8:20 pm  · 

i dont really like it much... they're everywhere and i couldn't get away from them.

Feb 12, 05 11:35 pm  · 

i haven't seen it either, maybe tomorrow. from the p9ics on ny times it seeems as though it is not the normal c&jc scale of experience. they don't seem to read as objectified as the previous work they have done such as wrapping an entire building, island, state, etc. i have never seen a piece in person and i am afraid i will be disappointed here as it is not necessarily something i can see as a whole, whereas a sheet or fabric across northern california is easy to visualize, this is not so mmmmm....blatntly beautiful. granted it has taken a lot to get to this point but i don't see the intention, the reason, the representaion, the meaning....yet. i may change my mind when i actually cna touch the big orange stuff in central the park.

Feb 13, 05 12:50 am  · 

From the pictures I've seen it doesn't look THAT impressive. It certainly reminds me of the torii gates at Fushimi Inari Shrine near Kyoto. I think what makes this a worthwhile piece is that it "works for" the city. For instance, it created temporary jobs for hundreds, etc...

Feb 13, 05 3:27 am  · 

The jobs were unpaid... merely voluteers... but let me tell you... it was a CIRCUS yesterday at the AOL Time Warner Center adjacent to the entrance to Central Park. AOL time warner took advantage by putting huge orange curtains in the foyer mimicking the Gates. So yes, it does work "for the city". Although the whole endeavor was impressive... the drawings make it lighter than what was actually constructed.

Feb 13, 05 11:39 am  · 

not completely true..all the people that worked directly for
christo and jc were paid...the volunteer labor was through
the parks department...

Feb 13, 05 2:48 pm  · 

Oh I see... well that's good.

Feb 13, 05 3:07 pm  · 

since no one has said it, i will..

i think it's great. it is public art. it is i think the first christo installation that can be walked through, which makes it different from the other ones. it becomes an experience, instead of an object you observe, although that is included also.

you walk through them among a chrowd of people. and although we always like our pics people free, really here the crowds sort of make it great. when was the last time you saw a city, communally, talking and experiencing a work of art?

my personal experience was heightened by the conversations bits i kept hearing around me as i walked... i enjoyed myself a lot.

Feb 13, 05 3:17 pm  · 

this certainly isn't one of their first 'experiential' sculptures...

i think its great. i think the way they are purging art of the usual pretensions is extremely successful in bringing out the masses to experience it.

Feb 13, 05 6:06 pm  · 

got back a couple hours ago,....although the detailing and
up close looks of the individual gates leave a bit to be desired...
the shear enormity of the project, the views all over the park
seeing gates everywhere is really impressive...i loved viewing
it from different vantage points and seeing how the gates
delineated each path...

and i also totally agree that it's impressive how a work of art
is able to bring a city together...the gates picture was on all
the front pages of the papers today which is a rarity in and
of itself...also the park was packed with people...i mean
anything that gets people out of the house and walking,
talking and excercising can not be listed as bad in my book.

as a side not the tim hawkinson exhibit at the whitney
is very cool as well...

Feb 13, 05 9:48 pm  · 

beyond the scale and repetition it looked shoddy and like the safety dept at Home Depot had a sale. The Christos are fond of saying that their installations have no symbolism or meaning. Thats is definately true about the gates as there is nothing past the "cool color" there. I just wish the gates had something else that was more substantial.

instead of enhancing the parc experience, they detract from the natural beauty and get in the way. Simply said, its an ugly "art" project from self-serving hucksters who are cashing in on peoples low expectitions of modern art and art in general.

This is another horrible tuen for the worse in this city that can be blamed on Bloomberg. As a collector friend of the Christos' he was the mayor who helped to ruin Central park.

Feb 13, 05 11:16 pm  · 

...TURN for the worse...

Feb 13, 05 11:18 pm  · 

thanks suture for being so blatantly honest - i have not seen it in person though - and i hope you have, since I am sure the experience is totally different

From all the pictures and video etc, i find it pretty boring - a one-liner at the best. But if the self-serving does any good for the city and local businesses, it is worth it - but yes, looking from the standpoint of an art project, its pretty bland

Feb 13, 05 11:30 pm  · 

for those that won't be able to make it in person here's a good photo gallery:

gallery 1

there's another one with many more photos but pbase's search engine is down right now. when up, just search for "The Gates".

ugly, everpresent, relentless...maybe...yet it's still beautiful because it's abstract enough for people to get a very personal reaction and simple enough for that reaction to tend to be very pure. This as opposed to the complicated and hostile in-your-face stance of much of contemporary art.

Feb 13, 05 11:30 pm  · 
Thats is definately true about the gates as there is nothing past the "cool color" there.

it's a timeless abstract experience available for a limited time, modulated in three and four dimensions by sunlight, wind, weather, and people.

in artwork this abstract the criticisms are generally a reflection of the spirituality of the critic.

Feb 13, 05 11:40 pm  · 


fetish, n

c. fig. Something irrationally reverenced.

d. Psychol. An object, a non-sexual part of the body, or a particular action which abnormally serves as the stimulus to, or the end in itself of, sexual desire.

Enough already with the “detailing” boys. Put down the commodity lust for a second a look at the art.

Feb 14, 05 12:01 am  · 

Took a second look at the "art" today. The only thing I could think about was that I had to buy something at Home Depot.

Feb 14, 05 12:19 am  · 

and your [nicomachean] limp attempt at intellectualizing the obvious is quite spritual:

"it's a timeless abstract experience available for a limited time, modulated in three and four dimensions by sunlight, wind, weather, and people."


The Gates were interresting, but by no means the media hype that the city has made it out to be. Its not even in the top half of the Christos' better work.

My 50 thongs hanging out to dry on a clothesline on a windy day are more compelling.

Feb 14, 05 1:31 am  · 

wow, now you're a real avant-garde artist...did you Photoshop that yourself. blow it up and print it on canvas.

i was looking at the "meaning" of the work as phenomenological not intellectual.

are you familiar with Andy Goldsworthy's work? are your 50 thongs more compelling?

your judgments about the work are all relative...The Gates were interresting, but by no means the media hype that the city has made it out to be. Its not even in the top half of the Christos' better work

analyze the work on its own and tell us how you'd make it more compelling. replace the hanging fabric with giant thongs? yeah, right.

Feb 14, 05 2:36 am  · 

Suture, it's too bad if you didn't enjoy it. that's your opinion. i'm just amazed at your discourse. i'm sure enough of my opinions to know that if we differ it doesn't necessarily mean you're stupid- and it definitely doesn't mean i am.

it is always harder to justify liking a piece of art and defending it. as for this specific piece, you can say it is a tribute to the ny promenade [what the artists said]. christo has never positioned him as a conceptual artist, but who decided non-conceptual artists are worthless? if that is the basis of your position, i can understand it.

i enjoy conceptual art, but the gates was a different experience. a valuable one, nonetheless. the fact that a lot of people like it doesn't necessarily mean it's bad.

i liked the nytimes description, saying the gates highlighted the park's paths like an orange marker. they make you aware of the topography and directions of the paths, they also highlight the wind and the sun, at a massive scale. they heighten the experience, make you more aware of the place. they force you to look. and a lot of people are not used to looking.. maybe we are as architects but increasing those senses at a massive scale can't be a bad thing.

Feb 14, 05 9:22 am  · 
curt clay

I think the Gates is a great project.

I feel it accentuates the original vision of Olmstead and brings people into contact with parts of the park that they may not otherwise have experience.

Central Park is arguably one of the greatest public spaces in this country. The gates brings life to the park in ways that it normally would not have. They draw people out of the fast past urbanity of the surrounding city and make people stop, meander, think, contemplate...

some shutter in disbelief, and others will have their jogging routes inconvenienced, but generally speaking, I would say it is a tremendous gesture, almost like a tracing exercise that was done to glorify Omstead's glorious design.

Feb 14, 05 9:22 am  · 

suture and others...

i'm not sure how 'the gates' truly detract from the park
experience...and saying this is a huge 'turn for the worse'
or anything of that ilk is ridiculous..the gates are up for
two weeks in february when the park would be fairly empty
and when the trees are at their starkest...

and as far as all these quotes of being reminded about
home depot...the color was there before the store and will
be there after...i think the psychopseumatic (sp?) link
between the store and the color in one
person's mind (an almost pavlovian response) says more
about the depot's good advertising and our culture's
susceptibility to that advertising/branding...than a poor
choice by the artists...

Feb 14, 05 9:52 am  · 

visited the installation this weekend and was impressed immediately by the scale of the project, something that you don't get from the photos or drawings. it wasn't very sunny but the wind was blowing strongly in some parts of the park allowing one to stop and observe the passage and speed of the wind furling and shaping the curtains in a strange ghostly way, as if the park itself was controlling their movement.
I'm still not convinced by the conceptual temporal aspect of the work mostly because it tries to be an autonomous piece while at the same time being a "donation" to the city (20 million could have been more useful to the city school system), but without descending to the 'looks like home depot' type remark I wasn't bothered by the color and would've preffered it to be more neutral maybe even industrial to contrast more and add to the repetitve/abstract quality akin to a Sol Lewit work. It certainly engages scale but somehow doesn't question it enough for such a large work.

Feb 14, 05 10:17 am  · 

yes it is relative. Like i said before, The Gates are not even in the top half of the Christos' better work.

And i am no andy goldworthy but a stringing up of every new yorkers undergarments along the parks path WOULD have been more compelling than the gates.

New York got ripped off for what it got:

Feb 14, 05 10:52 am  · 

You have to go and experience it, I too was disappointed by the images in the media but after visiting I was immediatly sold on the project. What I enjoyed most about it was the way it made every vista in the park a formal composition. I found myself framing every view and sometimes getting down low or climbing up simply for a different visual experience. And I think the color is great when contrasted with the cold greys of winter and the dark trees.

Feb 14, 05 10:54 am  · 

I'm in LA I haven't seen it. but I love the idea and pictures.

Feb 14, 05 10:58 am  · 

of the gates in the nyt by micheal kimmelman.

Feb 14, 05 2:13 pm  · 

i think that talks about the orange reminding people of home depot reflects the limited mental associativity palette of the people.

I dont like the whole project much myself, because i think its too simplistic in itself - too much of a one liner, but the home depot analogy is bullshit

Feb 14, 05 2:54 pm  · 

OK then its not home depot. its fencing material like.

this picture below is also "a timeless abstract experience available for a limited time, modulated in three and four dimensions by sunlight, wind, weather, and people."

is this contractor an artist?

Feb 14, 05 3:34 pm  · 

nice pic just trying to say that the criticism falls weak if references to home depot and contractor fences are made....

one more thing...did you go see it????

Feb 14, 05 4:28 pm  · 

the two are not at all similar which i'm sure you realize..
although there is a possibility for art in everything...
even some of your comments..

the thing i liked about the gates is seeing the fabric
moving with the wind..seeing the sunlight come through
each piece...seeing the repetitiveness of the gates..and
a single solid color that linked it all together...

and i know you're trying to make fun of someone elses
statement by quoting it over and over...but what the
person said is actually true for some...not true for you
i why don't you move on?

and even you have to admit that comparing a color with
a brand shows some sort of decay in the critical thinking
ability of americans/humans's a color get
over it...

for every home depot/contractor fencing comparison you
make ...i could just as easily say it's the color of leaves
in fall...or a goldfish or whatever...the point still stands...
your criticism is simplistic and childish.

Feb 14, 05 4:34 pm  · 

The Fence

Feb 14, 05 4:38 pm  · 


suture's critic is simplistic...but does it not suit the overly simplistic nature of this project???

and if you say 'why dont you move on' - we can stop the whole process or critical thinking and have a 'to each his/her own' approach...

Feb 14, 05 4:49 pm  · 

The fact that some people can irrationally love the gates and others can be made into cynical jackasses tells me that the artists have succeeded.

Feb 14, 05 4:53 pm  · 


my point was more in his making fun of someone else's
comments..if you read up near the beginning he's quoting
someone else's description of the gates...i don't mind his
criticism of the project or even his simplistic criticism..and
maybe the project lends itself to that kind of criticism.

i'm not telling him to 'move on' due to his having a different
opinion..i'm just asking him to stop making fun of someone
else because he disagrees.

Feb 14, 05 4:58 pm  · 

How exactly is it simplistic? Formally it's no more minimal then a Stella or Jahns painting or a Lewitt sculpture but I would never consider their work to be simplistic.

Feb 14, 05 5:05 pm  · 

Well, lets' just put it this way.... I was taking photos of the Gates... on the corner of central park where you can see the new Norman Foster tower rising in the distance. The tower itself (still under construction) was covered with this orange fencing material, the same color as the "saffron" tarp used to drape the gates.

The artists themselves said that the gates have no theory, no meaning, and are not symbols for anything. Then the only way I can judge it is by its placement on the site of the park which I felt was successful, and by its use material which failed considerably.

The real "Gates" is on display in the AOL time warner... they are the drawings of the Artists. The curtains are light, translucents, are blown by the wind, and change into many forms over time. The actual materials are heavy and stiff. It's a tarp. So in some ways, yes, the Gates is a very successful project (placement of the site, the way the crowds have associated or formed with it, economically) and have failed miserably (the stiffness of the materials, and the color).

If that is a successful art piece, then it's successful. I have to say that I really didn't like it. But yes because of this dialogue, I would have to agree that it did what it was supposed to do.

Feb 14, 05 7:42 pm  · 


I have seen them several times. If youd like we can meet at the west side of the reservoir for tea?

Its a nice enough project but if wind is its primary activator (curtains billowing in the air) then many things can be considered art. Central park in october is much nicer in its fall colors, leaves dancing as they fall, with the free sound of leaves rustling underfoot.

People do have to admit that the gates seen on a non-windy time of day from the side view are pretty pedestrian. One has to see through multiple gates on axis and have them perspectivaly colllapse on a windy day to begin to better appreciate them. and still they just dont provoke much reaction from the vast majority of people i have seen milling about the park.

i wonder what would have happened if it were a vertically continuous sheet of fabric that in its meandering nature brought into question the ideas of inside/ outside ala his west coast project of a few years back? The gates' high up fabric makes it feel like some midwester kitchen valance on a picture window.

i do still like my modern art proposal to have a large clothes line in the park where poeple come to hang up their skivies, though it has already been done all over HK

Feb 14, 05 7:52 pm  · 

Beautiful photograph, Suture.

Feb 14, 05 7:54 pm  · 


as i mentioned earlier on, i do not live in NY, so my judgement is based on the pictures and i agree its half-assed.

the clothesline idea would be more vibrant for sure

Feb 14, 05 8:04 pm  · 

how about this, lets do a flash mob at one gate, we'll get a crowd to pray to one of the gates for 16 minutes and then we'll all go to MOMA and spread feces on the main entry?? sound like a plan? good.

Feb 14, 05 9:57 pm  · 
vado retro

art isn't useful. it is useless. richard serra (and he ought to know)

Feb 14, 05 10:13 pm  · 

serra is a

Feb 14, 05 10:16 pm  · 

Suture, you've just played your hand with this question:

is this contractor an artist?

if he did the piece as an artwork, then he is an artist, and it is a work of art. you can't call something 'art' that a self-described 'artist' hasn't done. an 'artist' can claim anything as 'art' by making some kind of observation, commentary, or reaction be it verbal, photographic, painterly, or sculptural. so, an 'artist' could take your posts and pin them up in a gallery and it's 'art'. the 'artist' is the highlighter or filter. anything becomes 'art' that is filtered through the 'artist'. now, as to whether that 'art' is 'good' or not, for you it depends on if you're an absolutist or relativist. some would say that art is by its nature 'good'.

have any more pictures?

Feb 14, 05 10:41 pm  · 

i'm leaving the contemporary art feild, and entering architecture, and this conversation is really interesting... from my recollection christo & jean-claudes work originates with the land artists like smithson and heizer. the difference is that they use materials (often industrial) to interact with the landscape/public/architecture. i was disappointed in materials too, but given the fact that we're talking about 8,000+ gates, i dont think this is supposed to be a sublime object like a donald judd.
as far as its success as a public work, there are very few things that bring about a community/communal unity in NYC, and the gates manage to do that. in general most public art is responded to with general outrage, so i am pleased that the public is enjoying it. the percentage of new yorkers that actually use the park is also outrageously low, so the fact that it's bringing out the masses is pretty great to me.
what amazes me over and over is the level of hostility toward fine art in the general population (especially from modernism on). wow.

Feb 15, 05 12:44 am  · 

for all those naysayers, Howard Stern agrees with you, that's gotta say something, right?

Feb 15, 05 7:56 am  · 

The contractor putting up construction fences is not making art much as a jack frost on the window is not art, there is no intentionallity with either. However if someone were to take a photograph of the fences or the jack frost then it moves into the realm of art. Christo intended to create an aesthtic experience, for many of us it does kindle an aesthetic emotion (see Arnheim). Of course this is a subjective experience but I think we can all agree that construction fences do not equal the Gates when analyzed through the lens of aesthetics.

Feb 15, 05 9:06 am  · 
vado retro

great art transcends its intentioanality. if that were not true then all crucifixions would be equally great. -gary stephan

Feb 15, 05 1:13 pm  · 

i heard it costs something like 30 million, at the end of the day. I would rather see a single picasso than a bunch of "saffron" sheets...

Feb 15, 05 8:02 pm  · 

First, I don't think you can compare a single Picasso to the Gates. Second, sometimes quantity (large installations) is better than quality (master painting). Have you ever been to the Louvre (this is rhetorical)? Trying to see the Mona Lisa while 30 japanese obasans (old ladies) jab you in the gut with their elbows probably is not as wonderful an experience as slowly walking through the Gates with your girlfriend, or whatever.

Public art will have to be different from private art. I would rather have a Picasso above my mantle than 3000 gates leading up to my doorstep, but that would give a whole different purpose to the art.

Feb 15, 05 8:13 pm  · 

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