The saffron is up! | Feb 14, 2005
The Christo Central Park is unveiled. So far the reception is pretty rapturous - although mostly to the conception and not yet the execution. Below I'm quoting the Straits Times front-pager, which lifts from the New York Times, but adds a local angle. Christo's site is here.
New York's $33m idea to woo crowds
NEW YORK - CITIES around the world are competing to add that crucial buzz to draw talent and tourists. New York fired the latest salvo over the weekend when it unveiled a US$20 million (S$33 million) art project by renowned artists Christo and Jeanne-Claude in its famous Central Park.
COLOURFUL CONCEPT: Artworks like this one in New York - dubbed The Gates and rejected back in 1979 - are increasingly being seen as an important draw by cities like Singapore wanting to sell themselves as attractive places to live and work. -- REUTERS
Orange rivers of billowing fabric flowed around the bare trees of the park in what is the city's largest work of art, dubbed The Gates.
The saffron-coloured panels, mounted on more than 7,500 4.8m-high gates, were unfurled one by one over several hours on Saturday, creating tunnels with shimmering ceilings above 37km of park pathways.
'It brings a lot of joy back to the city,' said college admissions worker Jenny Gifford, 39, of Portland, Maine. The artwork is expected to draw at least 200,000 additional visitors to the city, bringing in an estimated US$80 million in revenues for the city's hotels and tourism outlets.
Christo and his wife, Jeanne-Claude, known internationally for their monumental art, conceived The Gates in 1979, but city officials rejected the idea.
The artists never gave up on the project, and Mayor Michael Bloomberg approved it two years ago, and launched it on Saturday.
Explaining the artwork, the artists said in a statement: 'The luminous moving fabric will underline the organic design of the park, while the rectangular poles will be a reminder of the geometric grid pattern of the city blocks.
'It doesn't mean anything... It's only a work of art, of joy and beauty.'
Singapore too has been seeking that critical X-factor to make it a place that even other cities talk about. It has plans for new iconic buildings in Orchard Road as well as major projects such as turning the Supreme Court and City Hall buildings into a world class art gallery.
It is now staging the largest solo exhibition of Colombian artist Fernando Botero's works. The collection of 72 paintings, 20 monumental outdoor sculptures and 14 smaller sculptures will be on display until Feb 27.
The Singapore Government has set aside more than $200 million over the next five years to develop its arts and culture, media and design industries.
Straits Times, 14 Feb 2005