New York


Rosa Esman Gallery

In what seemed an attempt at asserting an absent quality, the Rosa Esman Gallery exhibited six collage and assemblage “drawings” of 1964–65 for the storefront projects by Christo. In a color range from lemon yellow and tangerine orange to lime green, the diagrammatic sketches for the storefronts presented calculations and designatory measurements for the storefront images. Using paper, cloth, and sometimes charcoal on paper to represent these, Christo draped and bandaged the storefront windows and doors, as is his habit, so as to prohibit our gaze into the potential general store and corner candy store interiors.

That the storefronts’ success might result from an inherent nostalgia reinforced by a historic one is probably the case, since looked at solely as models and studies of wistful storefront architecture, they are sentimental, resembling Walt Disney props—shallow false fronts. But because they reveal a warmer side of a bygone Christo, we are tempted to accept them—paradoxically—as refreshing changes from the stale esthetic of the Christo who wraps everything in sight—or should one say out of sight.

These pieces do not melt the iciness of the later metal storefronts in any way. Their imposed passivity transforms them into narratives. They become the old neighborhood storefronts measured, awaiting demolition, shrouded in paper and cloth. They become spaces to be used again, under wraps until a new tenant arrives. Yet we must deal with them as what they really are, something from yesterday but not for today.

José Matos