Christo, 56 Barrels, 1968/1977, foto: Marjon Gemmeke

The sculpture

There have been several versions of 56 Barrels. Christo was commissioned to create the sculpture by Dutch collector couple Martin and Mia Visser. In 1968 it was installed in their garden in Bergeijk. In 1975 the Vissers, in consultation with Christo, decided to donate the sculpture to the Kröller-Müller Museum. Because the original version was in such poor condition, the work was recreated with new oil barrels in the sculpture garden. Christo made sketches for the new situation and selected the spot in the garden himself.

The restoration

The sculpture was dismantled at the end of 2023. The barrels have been freshly painted and replaced where necessary. The base has been completely replaced. Such a restoration involves a great deal of research. Drawings and certificates by Christo and earlier versions of 56 Barrels, which were approved by the artist but differ from each other, have served as a guiding principle.

Presentation in the museum

A presentation on this work will be on display in the museum from 1 June to 20 October 2024. The history of the sculpture is retraced using sketches by Christo and photographs of earlier versions and restorations. The presentation also includes drawings, collages and certificates.

Christo & Jeanne-Claude

Initially, Christo wrapped all kinds of objects in canvas – a chair, a telephone, a painting – but he soon also began using oil barrels to create sculptures. Since 1961 Christo worked together with his partner Jeanne-Claude (Casablanca, 1935 – New York City, 2009). The couple created large-scale projects of a temporary nature. For example, in 1962 they blocked a street in central Paris with oil barrels and used them to build huge mastabas, ancient Egyptian burial monuments. They also wrapped monumental buildings entirely in tarpaulin, including the Reichstag in Berlin and the Arc de Triomphe in Paris in 1995 and 2021 respectively. Since 1994, Christo & Jean-Claude have both been credited as artists of temporary projects.


Stichting Van Eelen-Weeber

Christo, 56 Barrels, 1968/1977, photo: Marjon Gemmeke