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The Gates

The Gates by Christo and Jeanne-Claude took the world by storm in 2005. It was a temporary two-week installation in Central Park, New York City. With over 7.500 gates and sprawling across 23 miles, it is an example of public art at an enormous scale. Each gate contains a bright orange frame with a piece of fabric hanging freely from the top. To avoid damaging the environment, the gates were tied to the ground rather than drilled into the soil.


Honestly, when I first saw this installation in class, I was confused why we were studying it. Although there is not a crazy story behind this work like in The Swing by Fragonard, I quickly learned that The Gates is more important than I thought for a multitude of reasons.

Located in the heart of Manhattan, The Gates was a brilliant example of public art. If you are unfamiliar with public art, here is the definition according to Wikipedia: “art in any media whose form, function and meaning are created for the general public through a public process.” The Bean in Chicago is a very famous example. With that being said, Christo and Jeanne-Claude are known for their public art installations. Sometimes the AP Exam will have an FRQ where you have to compare and contrast works by the same artist. The AP Exam can also include a picture of another work by the Claude's that is not included in the curriculum and ask you to identify it. This is all fair game.

This work is also significant because it initially received lots of backlash. Many people believed that the installation obstructed Central Park's natural landscape. However, what is ironic about this claim is that Central Park is entirely manmade.

Ultimately, The Gates highlights the relationships/interactions between humans and nature. It also tracks human movement through the park.



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