The world’s largest sculpture will be built in the desert of the United Arab Emirates

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A model of the Mastaba of Abu Dhabi. Photo: Wolfgang Volz, Christo and Jeanne-Claude Foundation

Christo and Jeanne-Claude have created some pretty incredible works in their lifetime.

Transcending traditional boundaries of painting, sculpture and architecture, husband and wife wrapped the Reichstag in Berlin in fabric in 1995.

Ten years later, they built a catwalk of saffron-colored fabric panels in Central Park, New York, for a play called “The Gates”.

After Jean-Claude’s death in 2009 and Christo’s passing in May 2020, their project to wrap the Arc de Triomphe in Paris in material came to life in 2021.

The Arc de Triomphe, Wrapped, Paris, 1961-2021.  Photo / Benjamin Loyseau, 2021 Christo and Jeanne-Claude Foundation
The Arc de Triomphe, Wrapped, Paris, 1961-2021. Photo / Benjamin Loyseau, 2021 Christo and Jeanne-Claude Foundation

The temporary artwork was on display for 16 days, from September 18 to Sunday October 3.

Fabric wasn’t the only medium the couple used.

Beginning in 1958, artists used barrels as a means of creating a strong physical presence. Sculptural, yet inexpensive, Christo often took storage drums from a yard next to his studio in France and explored stacking them to impressive heights in unusual places.

Despite their passing, the projects of their artistic enterprise will live on and are expected to break records as the largest permanent sculpture in the world.

Christo in his studio with preparatory work for Le Mastaba in 2012. Photo: Wolfgang Volz, Fondation Christo et Jeanne-Claude
Christo in his studio with preparatory work for Le Mastaba in 2012. Photo: Wolfgang Volz, Fondation Christo et Jeanne-Claude

Titled “The Mastaba,” the project will be the world’s largest permanent work of art and will use 410,000 multicolored barrels to create a colorful mosaic that mimics Islamic architecture.

Christo in his studio with a preparatory drawing for Le Mastaba in 1984. Photo: Wolfgang Volz, Christo and Jeanne-Claude Foundation.
Christo in his studio with a preparatory drawing for Le Mastaba in 1984. Photo: Wolfgang Volz, Christo and Jeanne-Claude Foundation.

Located in the Liwa Desert of the EUA, about 160 kilometers south of Abu Dhabi, it will stand 150 meters high, 300 meters wide and 225 meters deep.

The plans for the sculpture were first conceived in 1979 after Christo and Jeanne-Claude’s first visit to the United Arab Emirates.

Christo and Jeanne-Claude looking for a possible site for Le Mastaba in 1982. Photo: Wolfgang Volz, Christo and Jeanne-Claude Foundation
Christo and Jeanne-Claude looking for a possible site for Le Mastaba in 1982. Photo: Wolfgang Volz, Christo and Jeanne-Claude Foundation

The Mastaba will be their only permanent large-scale public artwork.

Once government approval is finalized, mark 2027 on your calendars as construction is estimated to take three years.

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