Installed simultaneously in Ibaraki Prefecture, Japan, and in southern California,
two cultures separated and joined by the Pacific Ocean, The Umbrellas was designed in vivid blue for the verdant environment of Japan and in bright yellow for arid southern California. However, structural components were the same: each umbrella stood more than 19 feet high, opened to a 28-foot diameter, and weighed 448 pounds.
After choosing a lush inland valley seventy-five miles north of Tokyo, Christo and Jeanne-Claude secured permission from 459 property owners (most of them rice farmers) and government agencies in 1987 and 1988. The project was scheduled for early fall, when the landscape would be very green after the summer rains. The 1,340 blue umbrellas, ninety of which stood in the Sato River, were placed at close intervals over twelve miles, reflecting the scarcity of land and the population density.
The artists selected an inland valley sixty miles north of Los Angeles and met with the region's twenty-five landowners and government officials in the fall of 1987. To highlight the spaciousness of the uncultivated pastureland, the artists installed 1,760 umbrellas over eighteen miles in a more open manner than in Japan. The vibrant yellow of the umbrellas was chosen to stand out against the brown hills in the dry California fall.
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