In spring 2013, Christo filled a translucent piece of fabric with 177,000 cubic metres of air in the Gasometer Oberhausen. His “Big Air Package” is monumental, impressive, and is even accessible.
Two fans make sure that the fabric is held at a constant height of 90 metres with a diameter of 50 metres, over a period of nine months. This is not the first “Air Package” that Christo has created in the past few decades with his wife Jeanne-Claude, but is probably the most impressive.
According to event organisers, this is the largest indoor sculpture ever created in the world – but that is not the point. It is the aesthetic charm that viewers succumb to. Christo’s installation transforms the heavy, iron architecture of the former gas storage tank into a light airspace, the beginning and end of which are barely tangible. The artist creates a place for contemplation, sublime and sacral.
Christo and Jeanne-Claude have become famous as “wrapping artists” – they have wrapped walkways, islands, bridges and the Reichstag in Berlin. With the “Air Package”, Christo is taking a different approach: the wrapping does not enclose any buildings or structures, but rather air. As an artistic medium, the air remains invisible, diffuse, fleeting. Nevertheless, the sculpture aims to control this gaseous state, to be able to apply it purposefully.
This is a familiar field for Messer Group, the world’s largest privately managed specialist for industrial gases. So it stood to reason that the company based in Hesse would sponsor Christo’s “Big Air Package” in Oberhausen.
“For us as gas specialists, such projects are fascinating because artists often go beyond the purely industrial applications. They break new ground, and this is a particular challenge and inspiration not only for the artists, but for us as well”, explains Stefan Messer, CEO of the family company.
Messer’s involvement in Christo’s major project in Oberhausen is not an isolated case. Messer Group is active around the globe – when it comes to art as well.
And although gases ultimately remain invisible, diffuse and fleeting – with its involvement for and in art, Messer is demonstrating how valuable, precious and useful gases are. They give art its magic, restore the original splendour to historical treasures, ensure a spectacular puppet performance that no one will forget in a hurry. Not only at Messer, but around the world.