National Gallery of Art
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Valley Curtain, collage 1971


Valley Curtain, photograph 1972
 
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Valley Curtain, Grand Hogback, Rifle, Colorado, 1970-72

Christo and Jeanne-Claude's first monumental project in the American landscape, Valley Curtain featured fabric that was non-containing, more dynamic, and freer. An enormous expanse of vivid orange nylon polyamide was installed between two mountains 1,250 feet apart to create an artificial barrier ranging from 182 to 365 feet in height. During the first installation, attempted in 1971, the curtain was damaged irreparably by winds. Christo and Jeanne-Claude quickly retrenched: the curtain and its moorings were redesigned, and engineers monitored wind velocities. The second attempt, executed on 10 August 1972, was successful, but unpredicted gale force winds arose and necessitated the curtain's removal after merely twenty-eight hours. Valley Curtain thus demonstrates the artists' determination to see their ideas through to completion. It also captures the essence of the large-scale projects: the installation is of vital importance, although the duration is finite; and the realized project remains in viewers' memories.

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