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CONTACT: Diane Manuel, News Service (650) 725-1945;

Christos launch new lecture and symposia series

Christo and Jeanne-Claude will inaugurate the new Stanford Presidential Lectures and Symposia in the Humanities and Arts with a public lecture at 5 p.m. Monday, March 2, in Annenberg Auditorium of Cummings Art Building.

The artists are scheduled to discuss two of their works in progress ­ The Gates, a project for Central Park in New York City, and Over the River, a project for the Arkansas River in Colorado. They will launch the evening with a slide show, followed by a question-and-answer session and signings of their new book.

The Christos also will participate in a discussion from 10 to 11:30 a.m. Tuesday, March 3, in the Newhall Room of the Littlefield Building. Panelists will include Steve Chu, professor of physics; Mel Chin, a visiting artist in residence; undergraduate student Tessa Barrera; and graduate student in art Rigo.

Both sessions are free and open to the public.

To those who wonder whether the Christos plan to wrap any buildings on campus, the artists have a brief answer: Don't ask.

The artistic team of Christo and Jeanne-Claude is best known for monumental wrapping, tying and covering projects. The artists have wrapped a stretch of coastline in Sydney, stretched an orange Valley Curtain across a canyon in Rifle, Colo., erected a 24-mile Running Fence in Northern California, and tied together the Surrounded Islands of Miami's Biscayne Bay.

The Christos' utilization of fabrics in pieces such as the Running Fence and the Wrapped Reichstag challenge traditional approaches to materials and means of artistic production. Their works often are wrought on a scale that involves legislative bodies, planning agencies and the public at large. The Christos say they want to redefine the nature of "work" as the "work of art."

The Christos are the first of 20 distinguished humanists who will visit Stanford during the next two-and-one-half years. University President Gerhard Casper has earmarked $12 million to fund four new professorships in the arts and humanities. Endowed professorships typically are funded at $2 million, but Casper has said the university wants to attract top-ranked scholars to the new chairs.

Hans Gumbrecht, the Albert Guérard Professor of Literature and director of the lecture and symposia series, said the goal of the Stanford Presidential Lectures is to ask questions about the future shape of the humanities and arts in higher education.

"The old certainties in the humanities no longer exist and no new paradigms or set of answers have emerged," Gumbrecht said.


By Diane Manuel

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