Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Christo (1935-2020), The Accordion-Fold Book for The Umbrellas, Joint Project for Japan and U.S.A., San Francisco: Bedford Arts, 1991

Front cover photo credit: T. Delaney [T Delaney Seam Store]

A double-sided accordion of Christo's painted photographs that served as studies for this project between the USA and Japan in which 1340 yellow umbrellas were installed on the West Coast, and 1760 blue umbrellas in Ibaraki, Japan. The project opened on October 9th, 1991, but sadly on Oct. 26th one of the umbrellas in the USA was uprooted by a strong wind and killed a visitor. Christo ordered the entire project taken down, but disaster struck again when one of the workers taking down an umbrella in Japan touched a power line and died. The following link to Christo's website includes more preparatory drawings, as well as photographs of the work installed (

8 double-sided pages, individual page: 11" x 9", fully extended 6ft. 

This book also includes an interview with Christo by Masahiko Yanagi that was  recorded in January, 1991. The section below provides some interesting insights into how the publication came about and Christo's response to the accordion format. 

Masahiko Yanagi: There are more than 40 books and many catalogues about your work. But, this book is unusual not only because of the accordion-fold format, but also because it consists of reproductions of only one type of your works on paper: painted photographs. Can you explain how this book project came about?

Christo: The basic idea and the format of this book were proposed by Stephen Vincent, the director of Bedford Arts. They have done several accordions books before. But I decided to use only my 14-by-11-inch vertical painted photographs, the smallest works on paper I usually make, because I wanted the works to be reproduced on a one-to-one scale. I have always thought that reproductions of my works on paper in their true scale would have great quality. To do this, I asked the publisher to use a book format larger than the one originally proposed. Further, this is not simply a book about my works on paper; it is also about a proposal that I am about to realize. I think the black and white prints that I use in my painted photographs will enhance the real-life dimension. I enjoy having a book that is specifically about one work of art which will exist only for a short time.

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