A long history of creating projects in Italy
Christo and Jeanne-Claude have a long history of creating projects in Italy – some of which were realized, others not. The artists’ close links with Italy date back to 1963, when they had one of their first personal exhibitions at Galleria Apollinaire in Milan, followed by shows at Galleria La Salita in Rome and Galleria del Leone in Venice the same year and Galleria Gian Enzo Sperone in Torino in 1964.
During his stay in Rome, Christo wrapped one of the statues in the garden of the Villa Borghese. It was the artists’ first wrapped monument, yet modest in scope. The work was done without permission, but the police did not interfere, thinking that the curators were doing conservation work. The statue remained wrapped for a total of six months.
Wrapped Roman Wall
Christo and Jeanne-Claude’s last outdoor project realized in Italy was completed in 1974 in Rome. The artists wrapped a section of the 2,000-year-old Aurelian Walls situated at the end of the Via Veneto and Villa Borghese. Although Christo and Jeanne-Claude had many exhibitions and realized several indoor installations in the following years, The Floating Piers will be their first major project in Italy for over four decades.
Projects Not Realized
The oldest bridge in Rome, the Ponte Sant’Angelo, which links the Vatican and the City of Rome, was the first one Christo and Jeanne-Claude proposed to wrap, in 1967. (In 1975, Christo and Jeanne-Claude decided to wrap the Pont-Neuf, the oldest bridge in Paris. The project was realized ten years later.) At the same time, they also had their first proposal for a wrapped museum. When the artists were offered an exhibition at the Galleria Nazionale d’Arte Moderna in Rome, they not only suggested to realize several installations inside the museum, they also tried to receive permission to wrap the entire building. After the museum’s staff had postponed the exhibition several times, it was called off in 1968.
Wrapped Fountain and Wrapped Medieval Tower
In July 1968, in conjunction with the Festival of Two Worlds, Christo and Jeanne-Claude almost wrapped the Spoleto opera house, the three-story-high Teatro Nuovo, an eighteenth-century building that is one of the principal attractions of the small mountaintop town in Central Italy. Due to fire laws, Christo and Jeanne-Claude were prevented from realizing the project. Instead, they wrapped a medieval tower – one of the first landmarks on the road winding into Spoleto – and a baroque fountain at the market place.
Two years later, in 1970, Christo and Jeanne-Claude returned to Italy again. In Milan, they realized two works simultaneously by wrapping the monument to the king of Italy, Vittorio Emanuele II, on Piazza del Duomo, and the monument to Leonardo da Vinci, on Piazza della Scala. Two other projects remained unrealized: Arco della Pace Wrapped and Curtains for La Rotonda, which would have involved fabric curtains closing the nearly 100 arches of the late baroque Rotonda della Besana.