IS Part 1 – Christo The Floating Piers (Project for Lake Iseo, Italy)

Analysis of The Floating Piers

One of many list of images, The Floating Piers caught my attention the most. As a person who studied architecture and design in the past, I found the image engage me to stop and look closer of it. The shape of line direction, photo’s angle, color composition between orange-yellow in a grayscale  image.  Moreover, the structure of floating piers, it does not look like a bridge with a sturdy structure frame and foundation but it is like floating pontoon.


Christo The Floating Piers (Project for Lake Iseo, Italy) Collage 2016 14
x 11” (35.5 x 28 cm) Pencil, wax crayon, enamel paint, photographs by Wolfgang Volz and fabric sample Photo- André Grossmann

Floating Piers is a massive project for Lake Iseo in Italy 2016 by a Bulgarian & French artist, Christo Javacheff & Jeanne-Claude. Christo continue the project without his wife who pass away in 18 November 2009, aged 74 . They had been collaborating for 51 years on temporary public arts projects.

The Concept

The story of this Floating Piers was first conceived by Christo and Jeanne in 1970. They started to improve the idea after realized The Gates in 2005.


The Gates (Project for Central Park, New York City)
Drawing 2003 in two parts
15 x 96″ and 42 x 96″ (38 x 244 cm and 106.6 x 244 cm)
Pencil, charcoal, pastel, wax crayon, fabric sample, aerial photograph and hand-drawn technical data
Whitney Museum of American Art, New York City, USA (Gift of Melva Bucksbaum and Raymond Learsy)
Photo: André Grossmann
© 2003 Christo

The Floating Piers

“The project started in 2014 and finished in 2016. Lake Iseo was reimagined with 100,000 square meters of shimmering yellow-orange fabric, carried by a modular floating dock system of 220,000 high-density polyethylene cubes, undulated with the movement of the waves as The Floating Piers rose above the surface of water. A 3-kilometer-long walkway was created as The Floating Piers extended across the water of Lake Iseo. The piers were 16 meters wide and approximately 35 centimeters high with sloping sides. The fabric continued along 2.5 kilometers of pedestrian streets in Sulzano and Peschiera Maraglio” (The Floating Piers, Project for Lake Iseo, Italy-2015).


At the textile manufacturer Setex, 90,000 square meters of shimmering yellow fabric are produced, Greven, Germany, August 2014
Photo: Wolfgang Volz


At a factory in Fondotoce at Lago Magiore, 200,000 high-density polyethylene cubes are manufactured over a period of eight months before delivered to the project’s storage in Montecolino, January 2016
Photo: Wolfgang Volz

The project  involve many elements  such as  the engineer, scuba-diver, helicopter, house, mountain, water and waves. Visitors were able to walking on it from Sulzano to Monte Isola and to the island of San Paolo, which was framed by The Floating Piers.


A diver connects a rope made of ultra-high-molecular-weight polyethylene (UHMWPE), covered with a polyester protective layer with a breaking load of 20 metric tons, to one of the anchors on the lake bed to keep the piers in place, March 2016
Photo: Wolfgang Volz


The felt that will cover the cubes underneath the yellow fabric is transported from Montecolino to San Paolo island by Elimast Helicopter Service, May 2016
Photo: Wolfgang Volz

The Floating Piers is funded entirely through the sale of Christo’s original works of art. After the 16-day exhibition, all components have been removed and recycled.

Lake Iseo is located 100 kilometers east of Milan and 200 kilometers west of Venice.  Like all their projects, The Floating Piers were absolutely free and open to the public. “There were no tickets, no openings, no reservations and no owners. The Floating Piers were an extension of the street and belonged to everyone. Those who experienced The Floating Piers felt like they were walking on water or perhaps the back of a whale. The light water transformed the bright yellow-orange fabric to shades of red and gold throughout the sixteen days. ” said Christo (The Floating Piers, Project for Lake Iseo, Italy-2015).


Christo and Jeanne-Claude
The Floating Piers, Lake Iseo, Italy, 2014-16
Photo: Wolfgang Volz
© 2016 Christo


Christo and Jeanne-Claude
The Floating Piers, Lake Iseo, Italy, 2014-16
Photo: Wolfgang Volz
© 2016 Christo

The Installation

The Project of this Floating Piers started in October 2015 start from the cubes making /assembled by mostly 20 years students of NSA (National Sport Academy) recruited by christo in Bulgaria  and the divers job was to mount the anchors which in total 220 concrete anchors, weight each 6 tons at the depth of approximately 100 meters. The installation of the anchors took 3 months. After the cubes were installed, they stretch the cover along the quays and the divers in the water catch them on the side with carabiners (Diana Aleksieva –  2017).

The history of Public Art

According to Hilde Hein’s book, public art of time and place, “public art is an oximoron according to the standards of modernist art and aesthetic theory. Modern philosophical aesthetics focuses almost exclusively on subjective experience and a commodified  work of art” ( Hein, Hilde. – 1996). Some people think that art is taken to be product of individual and an autonomous act. In public fact, art must involved artist self-negation and respectful to an assets of community. In conclusion, art is considered as public because it refers to group of conditions include the object’s origin, history, location and social purpose.

In my opinion, since the meaning of public art itself looks abstract, it depends on the artist where to place their work. For instance, a museum or public space where people have free access or sizeable artwork which placed in semi-public places such as university grounds, hospitals, banks, lobbies or gallery.  Moreover, public art is not only the placement of the art itself but how it can make people experienced/involved in it.



**  Hein, Hilde. “What is public art?: Time, place, and meaning.” The Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism 54.1 (1996): 1-7.
**  Svejenova, Silviya, Jesper Strandgaard Pedersen, and Luis Vives. “Projects of passion: Lessons for strategy from temporary art.” Project-Based Organizing and Strategic Management. Emerald Group Publishing Limited, 2011. 501-527.
**  Lemisch, Jesse. “Art for the People? Christo and Jeanne Claude’s” The Gates”.” New Politics 10.3 (2005): 82.
**  Mihaela Krasteva,  The Impact of Technology on the Modern Art, 2016
**  Wollf, Corinna Michelle. Water Over the Bridge. Diss. 2016.
**  Liudmyla, R. U. B. A. N. “Urban waterfron recreation territories: a dialogue with water.” Środowisko Mieszkaniowe (2016).
**  “Christo: The Floating Piers, Project for Lake Iseo, Italy”. Retrieved 2015-09-07.

**  Grimes, William (November 19, 2009). “Jeanne-Claude, Collaborator With Christo, Dies at 74”. The New York Times. Retrieved November 20, 2009.

**  Diana Aleksieva (March 2017). “Ina i Rosen” [Ina and Rosen – Invisible to the eye]. InterViewTo (in Bulgarian). Retrieved 2017-03-31

**  Sophie Morlin-Yron (2016-06-27). “Floating art lets people walk on water at Italy’s Lake Iseo”



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