Artist Christo has built a 20-metre-high floating sculpture on London’s Serpentine Lake inspired by the Islamic tombs.
The London Mastaba – a summer-long installation – comprises 7,506 painted barrels that have been stacked horizontally on a floating platform made from polyethylene cubes. A steel scaffolding rig holds the red, mauve and blue barrels in place and is anchored to the lake by 32 six-tonne weights.
Says Christo: ‘The colours will transform with the changes in the light and its reflection on the Serpentine Lake will be like an abstract painting.’
The brightly coloured, 600-tonne structure is a tribute to his late wife Jeanne-Claude, and riffs on the traditional trapezoid shape of Islamic mastabas tombs, which have their origins in Mesopotamia and were adopted by the Egyptians.
Christo’s London Mastaba covers 1% of the Serpentine Lake’s surface and was entirely self-funded by the artist through the sale of previous works. In keeping with Jeanne-Claude’s belief in making free art, the floating structure – which is Christo’s first major outdoor UK work – is free to view and will be in situ until 23 September.
Christo and Jeanne-Claude are best known for their barrel sculptures and worked in collaboration from the 1960s until Jeanne-Claude’s death in 2009.
A major exhibition of the couple’s work, entitled Christo and Jeanne-Claude: Barrels and The Mastaba 1958–2018, coincides with the installation, running at the Serpentine Galleries from 19 June to 9 September.