“The Reichstag for 14 days was like a living object, breathing, moving in the wind and changing the colours and the shapes of the shadows of the folds.” – Christo and Jeanne-Claude.
The Reichstag (in Berlin, Germany) stands up in an open, strangely metaphysical area. The building has experienced its own continuous changes: built in 1894, burned in 1933, almost destroyed in 1945, it was restored in the sixties, but the Reichstag always remained the symbol of Democracy.
After a struggle with planning that spanned the seventies, eighties and nineties, the wrapping of the Reichstag was completed on June 24, 1995 by a work force of 90 professional climbers and 120 installation workers. The Reichstag remained wrapped for 14 days and all materials were recycled.
The work of art was entirely financed by the artists, as in all previous projects, through the sale of preparatory studies, drawings, collages, scale models as well as early works and original lithographs. The artists do not accept sponsorship of any kind. The cost of wrapping the Reichstag was 15.3 million dollars in 1995, about 35 million today.
1,076,390 square feet (100,000 square meters) of thick woven polypropylene fabric with an aluminum surface and 15.6 kilometers of blue polypropylene rope, diameter 1.26 inch (3.2 centimeters), were used for the wrapping of the Reichstag. The façades, the towers and the roof were covered by 70 tailor-made fabric panels, twice as much fabric as the surface of the building.
Throughout the history of art, the use of fabric has been a fascination for artists. From the most ancient times to the present, fabric forming folds, pleats and draperies is a significant part of paintings, frescoes, reliefs and sculptures made of wood, stone and bronze. The use of fabric on the Reichstag follows the classical tradition. Fabric, like clothing or skin, is fragile; it translates the unique quality of impermanence.
For a period of two weeks, the richness of the silvery fabric, shaped by the blue ropes, created a sumptuous flow of vertical folds highlighting the features and proportions of the imposing structure, revealing the essence of the Reichstag.
The wrapping of the Reichstag building in Berlin had, for Christo, importance because of the idea of East-West relations (the Cold War), where the U.S. and the Soviets had their biggest confrontation.
Related Video – Why do Christo and Jeanne-Claude use fabric?