Christo’s Big Air Package – The world’s most massive sculpture

Christo - Big Air Package, 2010, 20,350 sqm of semitransparent polyester fabric, 4 500 m of polypropylene rope, inflated 90 m tall, 50 m wide, 177,000 cubic meter, 5,300 kg, Gasometer Oberhausen, Germany, 2010-2013
Christo – Big Air Package, 2010, 20,350 sqm of semitransparent polyester fabric, 4 500 m of polypropylene rope, inflated 90 m tall, 50 m wide, 177,000 cubic meter, 5,300 kg, Gasometer Oberhausen, Germany, 2010-2013

Introduction

From the wrapped Reichstag to the Gates in Central Park, New York, Christo knows the scores in the art scene. In many projects, Christo worked with his late wife Jeanne Claude until the Big Air Package, the first installation since her death.

Background

The Big Air Package became the second project by Christo to feature at Gasometer Oberhausen after the Wall. The Wall of Oil Barrels in 1962 was a project designed to protest against the Berlin Wall construction.

Christo and Jeanne-Claude - The Wall, 1998, 13,000 oil barrels, Gasometer Oberhausen, Germany, 1998-1999
Christo and Jeanne-Claude – The Wall, 1998, 13,000 oil barrels, Gasometer Oberhausen, Germany, 1998-1999
Christo and Jeanne-Claude - The Wall, 1998, 13,000 oil barrels, Gasometer Oberhausen, Germany, 1998-1999
Christo and Jeanne-Claude – The Wall, 1998, 13,000 oil barrels, Gasometer Oberhausen, Germany, 1998-1999
Christo - Projet du mur provisoire de tonneaux metalliques (Rue Visconti, Paris 6), 1962, 89 oil barrels
Christo – Wall of Oil Barrels – The Iron Curtain, Rue Visconti, Paris, 1962, 89 oil barrels

The Big Air Package

Big air package was a massive project, taking around nine months to complete. The design of the monumental ballon comprised 4,500 meters of rope and 20,350 square meters of fabric. When inflated, the sculpture was enormous, as it rose to 90 meters and covered 50 centimeters in diameter.

Christo - Big Air Package, 2010, 20,350 sqm of semitransparent polyester fabric, 4 500 m of polypropylene rope, inflated 90 m tall, 50 m wide, 177,000 cubic meter, 5,300 kg, Gasometer Oberhausen, Germany, 2010-2013
Christo – Big Air Package, 2010, 20,350 sqm of semitransparent polyester fabric, 4 500 m of polypropylene rope, inflated 90 m tall, 50 m wide, 177,000 cubic meter, 5,300 kg, Gasometer Oberhausen, Germany, 2010-2013
Christo - Big Air Package, 2010, 20,350 sqm of semitransparent polyester fabric, 4 500 m of polypropylene rope, inflated 90 m tall, 50 m wide, 177,000 cubic meter, 5,300 kg, Gasometer Oberhausen, Germany, 2010-2013
Christo – Big Air Package, 2010, 20,350 sqm of semitransparent polyester fabric, 4 500 m of polypropylene rope, inflated 90 m tall, 50 m wide, 177,000 cubic meter, 5,300 kg, Gasometer Oberhausen, Germany, 2010-2013
Christo - Big Air Package, 2010, 20,350 sqm of semitransparent polyester fabric, 4 500 m of polypropylene rope, inflated 90 m tall, 50 m wide, 177,000 cubic meter, 5,300 kg, Gasometer Oberhausen, Germany, 2010-2013
Christo – Big Air Package, 2010, 20,350 sqm of semitransparent polyester fabric, 4 500 m of polypropylene rope, inflated 90 m tall, 50 m wide, 177,000 cubic meter, 5,300 kg, Gasometer Oberhausen, Germany, 2010-2013
The world’s most massive sculpture

Despite the hugeness of the Gasometer, it got covered from wall to wall by the sculpture; only a small walking passage remained around it. From the interior, Christo compared the balloon-like sculpture to a massive cathedral with elevated ceilings. It weighed over 5 tonnes yet lacked an interior skeleton to support the enormous weight but relied on constant pressure from two air fans. The art scene stood as the most massive sculpture and the most significant inflated envelope in the World.

Christo - Big Air Package, 2010, 20,350 sqm of semitransparent polyester fabric, 4 500 m of polypropylene rope, inflated 90 m tall, 50 m wide, 177,000 cubic meter, 5,300 kg, Gasometer Oberhausen, Germany, 2010-2013
Christo – Big Air Package, 2010, 20,350 sqm of semitransparent polyester fabric, 4 500 m of polypropylene rope, inflated 90 m tall, 50 m wide, 177,000 cubic meter, 5,300 kg, Gasometer Oberhausen, Germany, 2010-2013
Christo - Big Air Package, 2010, 20,350 sqm of semitransparent polyester fabric, 4 500 m of polypropylene rope, inflated 90 m tall, 50 m wide, 177,000 cubic meter, 5,300 kg, Gasometer Oberhausen, Germany, 2010-2013
Christo – Big Air Package, 2010, 20,350 sqm of semitransparent polyester fabric, 4 500 m of polypropylene rope, inflated 90 m tall, 50 m wide, 177,000 cubic meter, 5,300 kg, Gasometer Oberhausen, Germany, 2010-2013
How did visitors feel inside the artwork?

Visitors could enter through airlocks, and well-articulated interiors highlighted the fascinating aspect of the sculpture. The interiors provided an enthralling experience because of the captivating light projectors. It was a unique spectacle, not seen before in the art scene. Visitors indicated the experience was like a swimming pool of lights, so mesmerizing.

Christo - Big Air Package, 2010, 20,350 sqm of semitransparent polyester fabric, 4 500 m of polypropylene rope, inflated 90 m tall, 50 m wide, 177,000 cubic meter, 5,300 kg, Gasometer Oberhausen, Germany, 2010-2013
Christo – Big Air Package, 2010, 20,350 sqm of semitransparent polyester fabric, 4 500 m of polypropylene rope, inflated 90 m tall, 50 m wide, 177,000 cubic meter, 5,300 kg, Gasometer Oberhausen, Germany, 2010-2013
Christo - Big Air Package, 2010, 20,350 sqm of semitransparent polyester fabric, 4 500 m of polypropylene rope, inflated 90 m tall, 50 m wide, 177,000 cubic meter, 5,300 kg, Gasometer Oberhausen, Germany, 2010-2013
Christo – Big Air Package, 2010, 20,350 sqm of semitransparent polyester fabric, 4 500 m of polypropylene rope, inflated 90 m tall, 50 m wide, 177,000 cubic meter, 5,300 kg, Gasometer Oberhausen, Germany, 2010-2013
Exhibition video

4 min 46 sec
The meaning of the work

Like all other previous works, the Big Air package impressed to a great magnitude. Though it does not hold any symbolism or hidden meaning, it is aesthetic. In many projects, Christo and his late wife cited the urge to elicit joy and happiness through their talent as their primary motivation.

Accompanying exhibition

For immersion and exploration of the “Big Air Package” designing journey, the performance featured an exhibition. The exhibition highlighted five significant projects in the works of Christo and his wife, Jeanne Claude. The show included photographs, sketches, and films, all stirring the cherished memories of previous artworks. Modeling and extensive format work accompanied the performance. And they featured seven initial designs of the Big Air Package. The designs highlight the years from the conceptualization of the project to embarking on designing to implementation.

Other important projects

All artworks from Christo before Big Air Package featured his wife. Their works include 5,600 Cubicmeter Package at documenta 4, the Wrapped Coast, the Gates, the London Mastaba and many more.

In Gates, they achieved massive success as they designed 7503 gates of beautiful fabric along the walkways of Central Park in New York. It’s a project they fully-funded themselves; Bloomberg called it the most stunning public project ever.

Christo and Jeanne-Claude - The Gates, 7,503 gates, free-hanging saffron colored fabric panels, Central Park, New York City, 1979-2005
Christo and Jeanne-Claude – The Gates, 7,503 gates, free-hanging saffron colored fabric panels, Central Park, New York City, 1979-2005
Christo and Jeanne-Claude - The Gates, 7,503 gates, free-hanging saffron colored fabric panels, Central Park, New York City, 1979-2005
Christo and Jeanne-Claude – The Gates, 7,503 gates, free-hanging saffron colored fabric panels, Central Park, New York City, 1979-2005

Christo thrives in his abundant experience, college education in art schools, and immense talent. In all the projects, Christo has worked with Wolfgang Volz, an A-level photographer. Together they have created stimulating works as the photographer covers every inch of Christo’s career.

Construction photos

Christo - Big Air Package, 2010, 20,350 sqm of semitransparent polyester fabric, 4 500 m of polypropylene rope, inflated 90 m tall, 50 m wide, 177,000 cubic meter, 5,300 kg, Gasometer Oberhausen, Germany, 2010-2013
Christo – Big Air Package, 2010, 20,350 sqm of semitransparent polyester fabric, 4 500 m of polypropylene rope, inflated 90 m tall, 50 m wide, 177,000 cubic meter, 5,300 kg, Gasometer Oberhausen, Germany, 2010-2013
Christo - Big Air Package, 2010, 20,350 sqm of semitransparent polyester fabric, 4 500 m of polypropylene rope, inflated 90 m tall, 50 m wide, 177,000 cubic meter, 5,300 kg, Gasometer Oberhausen, Germany, 2010-2013
Christo – Big Air Package, 2010, 20,350 sqm of semitransparent polyester fabric, 4 500 m of polypropylene rope, inflated 90 m tall, 50 m wide, 177,000 cubic meter, 5,300 kg, Gasometer Oberhausen, Germany, 2010-2013
Christo - Big Air Package, 2010, 20,350 sqm of semitransparent polyester fabric, 4 500 m of polypropylene rope, inflated 90 m tall, 50 m wide, 177,000 cubic meter, 5,300 kg, Gasometer Oberhausen, Germany, 2010-2013
Christo – Big Air Package, 2010, 20,350 sqm of semitransparent polyester fabric, 4 500 m of polypropylene rope, inflated 90 m tall, 50 m wide, 177,000 cubic meter, 5,300 kg, Gasometer Oberhausen, Germany, 2010-2013
Christo - Big Air Package, 2010, 20,350 sqm of semitransparent polyester fabric, 4 500 m of polypropylene rope, inflated 90 m tall, 50 m wide, 177,000 cubic meter, 5,300 kg, Gasometer Oberhausen, Germany, 2010-2013
Christo – Big Air Package, 2010, 20,350 sqm of semitransparent polyester fabric, 4 500 m of polypropylene rope, inflated 90 m tall, 50 m wide, 177,000 cubic meter, 5,300 kg, Gasometer Oberhausen, Germany, 2010-2013 ´
Christo - Big Air Package, 2010, 20,350 sqm of semitransparent polyester fabric, 4 500 m of polypropylene rope, inflated 90 m tall, 50 m wide, 177,000 cubic meter, 5,300 kg, Gasometer Oberhausen, Germany, 2010-2013
Christo – Big Air Package, 2010, 20,350 sqm of semitransparent polyester fabric, 4 500 m of polypropylene rope, inflated 90 m tall, 50 m wide, 177,000 cubic meter, 5,300 kg, Gasometer Oberhausen, Germany, 2010-2013

Drawings

Christo - The Big Air Package, drawing, 2012, in two parts, pencil, charcoal, pastel, wax crayon, wash and architectural plans, 96 x 28 and 96 x 42 (244 x 71 cm and 244 x 106.6 cm)
Christo – The Big Air Package, drawing, 2012, in two parts, pencil, charcoal, pastel, wax crayon, wash and architectural plans, 96 x 28 and 96 x 42 (244 x 71 cm and 244 x 106.6 cm), photo: André Grossmann
Christo - Air Package, 2011, collage, pencil, charcoal, pastel, wax crayon, fabric, polyethylene, twine and cut-out cardboard 30 1/2 x 26 1/4 (77.5 x 66.7 cm)
Christo – Air Package, 2011, collage, pencil, charcoal, pastel, wax crayon, fabric, polyethylene, twine and cut-out cardboard 30 1/2 x 26 1/4 (77.5 x 66.7 cm), photo: André Grossmann

All images: Wolfgang Volz for Christo unless otherwise noted.

 

More

More by Christo and Jeanne-Claude

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *