The Gates of Christo

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The Gates of Christo

From Virgil Elliott

Published before 2005

Brian Yoder: On the other hand, the idea that these stunts are art at all is more than a little silly. They don't look like much of anything, they don't mean anything, they are just useless. In fact, I think that's the whole point he's trying to make... that art is useless and the more useless the better and more "pure" it is.


About 29 years ago, Christo put up his Running Fence along the boundary between Marin and Sonoma Counties (California, and of course it was a big media event with the usual amount of nonsense hyping it. It was visible from my brother's house, where I stayed briefly, so naturally there was discussion of it there between me and my brother's Marin airhead hippy girlfriend, who fancied herself an artsy aficionado. She said she thought it was great because it meant that anybody could be an artist. My position was that that was not an idea I could appreciate, as it diminishes the rightful distinction that real artists who have talent and have spent their lives developing expertise in their art disciplines deserve, when anyone, with little or no talent, could become recognized as an artist. It really destroys the reason for even having the word "artist" in the language if it means nothing.

Stunts like this, and especially the media hype they receive, are responsible in large part for the lack of interest the general public has in anything called "art" these days. It is perfectly reasonable to regard this sort of foolishness with disdain, and the fact that it is done in the name of art reflects badly on art itself.