Famous for massive public art projects, including "Wrapped Coast, One Million Square Feet" in Australia and "Running Fence" in Northern California, Christo Javacheff and his wife Jeanne-Claude were used to dealing with intransigent bureaucracies. But they hadn't reckoned with New York City. The couple's 1979 project--temporarily placing thousands of saffron-colored banners across the walkways of 843-acre Central Park--did not receive the city's blessing until 2003. Published in advance of the 16-day installation in February 2005, "Christo and Jeanne-Claude: The Gates" is a picture book that moves briskly from photographs of early presentations and hearings to numerous shots of workers assembling the steel, aluminum, vinyl and rip-stop nylon components of the piece. Scattered throughout are many of Christo's vibrant color sketches of "The Gates," which were conceived to create a "golden river" suggestive of autumn foliage when viewed from neighboring buildings and a "golden ceiling" for walkers and joggers in the park. The banners billow in the breeze, like sheets on a clothesline. While the early drawings show long banners hung from spindly black frames driven into the earth, the final design had to be modified so that it wouldn't touch low-hanging tree branches or poke holes in the ground. In the final version, 16-foot banners hang from sturdy aluminum bases covered in orange vinyl and placed at 12-foot intervals along 23 miles of walkways. The most recent drawings are especially radiant, showing the orange banners against a wintry setting of leafless trees. However, the decision to install "The Gates" in Februarytypically a dead time for tourism in the citywas likely driven by more than artistic effect. Taschen plans to publish a second edition of this book, with an additional 32 pages showing the final installation of "The Gates." Perhaps the publisher will also add much-needed artistic and socio-political context about the development of this project and how it compares with the artists' other work. "--Cathy Curtis"