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The Gates

Public art, food for the soul
By JEFFREY GANTZ  |  September 9, 2008
3.5 3.5 Stars


This documentary from Antonio Ferrera, Albert Maysles, David Maysles, and Matthew Prinzing details the tortuous journey by which “The Gates” came into being. Bulgarian environmental-installation artist Christo and his wife, Jeanne-Claude, proposed the project — to erect 7503 rip-stop-nylon-covered gates — back in 1979, and because Christo films every step of his proposals, we get to see the small-minded rejection. Flash-forward to the new century (after Christo and Jeanne-Claude have wrapped Paris’s Pont-Neuf and Berlin’s Reichstag) and Mayor Michael Bloomberg gives the go-ahead. “The Gates” goes up in February 2005, and it’s a winner, its saffron yellow (a color choice never explained in the documentary) lighting up the winter gloom and giving off Buddhist overtones. The $21 million (according to Christo and Jeanne-Claude, but whatever the actual figure, they raised all the money themselves) project brings out happy New Yorkers, it looks great in sun, rain, and snow, and as one apparently homeless man, defending the use of the money, says, “It’s food for the soul.” 94 minutes | MFA: September 11, 18, 20, 21; October 1, 3, 12, 18, 30

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