“The Floating Piers” in Lake Iseo, Italy Are Like Walking on Water

Curators’ Corner

“The Floating Piers” in Lake Iseo, Italy Are Like Walking on Water

Four decades ago, husband and wife Christo and Jeanne-Claude envisioned a floating bridge that would mirror the surreal experience of walking on water. Technically, it was an Argentine art historian’s concept, but the environmental art duo had always dreamed of creating an interactive artwork along the same lines. And thus a long story begins.

Perhaps the most mammoth of the couple’s ambitious projects, which include wrapping the coast of Australia’s Little Bay in 95,600 square meters of synthetic fabric and surrounding Miami’s Biscayne Bay with 603,850 square meters of pink polypropylene floating fabric, The Floating Piers spanned 46 years from idea to installation.

When Jeanne-Claude passed away in 2009, Christo made it his priority to see that their dream would be realized. In 2015, after 10 years of quietude, the Bulgarian artist reemerged determined to add to his list of larger-than-life works a nearly 2-mile floating bridge in Italy’s Lake Iseo. Christo spent the spring and summer of 2014 choosing the body of water, and after 22 months of planning and construction, the completed project was finally displayed from June 18 to July 3, 2016.

The couple’s imaginative concepts have always been founded on the idea of mystifying viewers for the sole purpose of providing joy.

“I know these projects are totally irrational, totally useless,” Christo told The New York Times. “The world can live without them, nobody needs them, only me and Jeanne-Claude. She always made the point that they exist because we like to have them, and if others like them, it’s only a bonus.”

The quirky yet magical idea to enable the public to experience the dreamlike sensation of traveling by foot over water was constructed from 100,000 square meters of shimmering yellow fabric placed atop a modular dock made of floating polyethylene cubes. The Floating Piers was financed through the sale of Christo’s original drawings and collage. The artwork is estimated to cost $16.8 million.

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Floating Piers Italy

SULZANO, ITALY – JUNE 16:  Artist Christo Vladimirov Javacheff attends the presentation of his installation the ‘The Floating Piers’ on June 16, 2016 in Sulzano, Italy.  (Photo by Pier Marco Tacca/Getty Images)

Floating Piers Italy

SULZANO, ITALY – JUNE 18:  People walk on the installation ‘The Floating Piers’ on the Iseo Lake by the Bulgarian artist Christo Vladimirov Yavachev known as Christo on June 8, 2016 in Iseo, Italy.  (Photo by Pier Marco Tacca/Getty Images)