Summervail - 50th Anniversary of “Valley Curtain”

Summervail 2022 and Vail Symposium Celebrate the 50th Anniversary of Christo and Jeanne-Claude’s Acclaimed Valley Curtain Installation in Rifle, Colorado

A Symposium Event, focused on one of the couple’s first grand scale projects in the United States, will take place at the Vail Mountain School on July 28th, 2022 with an international panel of the artists’ key collaborators and supporters

VAIL, Colorado (July 5, 2022) – Though the artist duo Christo and Jeanne-Claude's masterwork Valley Curtain (1970-72) survived a mere 28 hours in the face of overpowering winds across the Grand Hogback Mountain Range in Rifle, Colorado, the fleeting project would send ripples through the art world. Valley Curtain was one of the couple’s first grand scale projects executed in the United States and 50 years later, the wide-ranging impact of Valley Curtain on the international art world and members of Colorado's creative community can still be felt today. 

On Thursday, July 28, 2022 from 6:00-7:30pm at the Vail Mountain School in Vail, the Summervail Art Workshop Legacy Project (SAWLP) and Vail Symposium are pleased to present an international panel of participants to discuss the Valley Curtain project’s conception, development, construction, and continuing legacy. 

Christo and Jeanne-Claude
Valley Curtain, Rifle, Colorado, 1970-72
Photo: Harry Shunk
© 1972 Christo and Jeanne-Claude Foundation


The late husband and wife artist team Christo (1935-2020) and Jeanne-Claude (1935-2009) are the subject of international acclaim for their monumental art installations which temporarily shroud historical structures and surround or otherwise intervene among physical landscapes with vast panels of fabric. Per the artists' wishes, their estate completed l'Arc de Triomphe, Wrapped, Paris, 1961-2021 and is pursuing the realization of The Mastaba of Abu Dhabi, Project for United Arab Emirates.

Christo and Jeanne-Claude’s projects, which are funded entirely by the artists, often taking decades to realize, involve the painstaking cooperation of hundreds of people and interested parties including government officials, judges, environmental groups, landowners, local residents, engineers, construction workers, paid workers, and members of the general public. In the eyes of the artists, the journey through the multi-layered process of approvals is as much a part of the artwork as the final installation itself.

Valley Curtain (1970-72) located in Rifle, CO was one such work and arguably one of the under-recognized installations in the couples’ oeuvre. Fashioned from 4 1/2 acres of orange nylon fabric and suspended between two mountain slopes above Colorado’s I-70 highway, Valley Curtain was conceived as a dramatic environmental intervention in the Grand Hogback Mountain Range. The project took 28 months to come to fruition, yet Valley Curtain’s duration would only last 28 hours, cut dramatically short by gale force winds, estimated in excess of 60 mph, that necessitated the start of its removal. 

Christo at Valley Curtain Rifle, 1972 Photo: Shunk-Kender © 1972 Christo and Jeanne-Claude Foundation and J. Paul Getty TrustChristo at Valley Curtain
Rifle, 1972
Photo: Shunk-Kender
© 1972 Christo and Jeanne-Claude Foundation and J. Paul Getty Trust


Only a relatively small number of people would ultimately bear witness to Valley Curtain’s material existence between August 10 and 11 in 1972, among them Christo and Jeanne-Claude, their team of engineers and construction workers, fans, neighbors, a handful of press, highway drivers passing through, and local golfers. Among these workers were 12 members of the 1972 Summervail Workshop for Art and Critical Thinking, some of whom would continue working with Christo and Jeanne-Claude for the remainder of their careers.

“I think it is this dichotomy between the Valley Curtain’s immense scale and its utterly brief existence that still enthralls people today,” says Kris Sabel, Executive Director of the Vail Symposium. “The SummerVail Art Workshop made an incredible impact on the culture of Vail and we’re honored to partner again with their Legacy Project to build on its foundations and, in the company of this esteemed panel, to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Christo and Jeanne-Claude’s historic work of art here in Colorado.” 

Christo and Jeanne-Claude’s seminal projects include Wall of Oil Barrels - The Iron Curtain Paris, 1961-62, Running Fence, Sonoma and Marin Counties, California, 1972-76, Surrounded Islands, Biscayne Bay, Greater Miami, Florida,1980-83, The Pont Neuf Wrapped, Paris, 1975-85, The Umbrellas, Japan and USA, 1984-91, Wrapped Reichstag, Berlin, 1971-95, The Gates, Central Park, New York City, 1979-2005, and most recently L’Arc de Triomphe, Wrapped, Paris, 1961-2021, among many others.

Christo and Jeanne-Claude Valley Curtain, Rifle, Colorado, 1970-72 Photo: Wolfgang Volz © 1972 Christo and Jeanne-Claude Foundation Christo and Jeanne-Claude
Valley Curtain, Rifle, Colorado, 1970-72
 Photo: Wolfgang Volz
© 1972 Christo and Jeanne-Claude Foundation


The program’s panel will include: Jonathan Henery, a nephew involved in the daily workings of Christo and Jeanne-Claude who now manages the couples’ studio and home in New York City and runs The Christo and Jeanne-Claude Foundation; Vladimir Yavachev, a nephew who worked alongside Christo from the age of 15 to help bring his work to life. After Christo and Jeanne-Claude's passings, he realized his uncle’s unfinished work L'Arc De Triomphe and is currently working on the Mastaba project in UAE; Wolfgang Volz, lead photographer for Christo and Jeanne-Claude and one of the world's premier landscape photographers; James Baker, an artist, writer, and former Executive Director of Anderson Ranch Arts Center in Snowmass Village, CO who will also serve as the Symposium Events moderator. David Yust, retired CSU professor and renowned artist who was a friend and colleague of Christo and Jeanne-Claude; and Dan Telleen, a Vail resident and local businessman who, as a student at SummerVail at the time, traveled to Rifle and helped with the Valley Curtain installation.


 What: Christo and Jeanne-Claude: Reflecting on the 50th Anniversary of “Valley Curtain” and the Artists’ Legacy
When: Thursday, July 28, 2022, 6:00-7:30 p.m.
Where: Vail Mountain School | Vail, CO
Tickets: Tickets are $25 in advance; $35 the day of the program. Please visit for more information and to purchase tickets.


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The Vail Symposium is a grassroots, non-profit organization that has been part of the life and history of Vail since 1971. Our mission is to provide educational programs for the Vail Valley community that are thought-provoking, diverse, and affordable. True to that mission, over the past decade, the Symposium has offered more educational programs to more members of our community than almost any other organization in the valley. Vail Symposium will celebrate its 50th anniversary in July 2021 and continue through the year. A (501)(c)(3) non-profit organization, the Symposium is almost entirely donor-funded. 

About the Summervail Art Workshop Legacy Project
The mission of the Summervail Art Workshop Legacy Project is to establish historical preservation of the legacy of the Summervail Art Workshop and Critical Studies Program, which ran from 1971 to 1984 and became an invaluable entity to the Vail Valley and to the art world.  The Summervail Art Workshop Legacy Project (SAWLP) strives to preserve, document, archive, inspire, and demonstrate the impact of the Summervail Art Workshop program. The Summervail Art Workshop Legacy Project is a (501)(c)(3) non-profit organization. 

About Town of Vail
 Discover Vail in the spring, summer and fall. There’s no place like Vail for year-round recreation, outdoor pursuits and cultural experiences in the heart of the Colorado Rockies. Nestled at the foot of Vail Mountain just two hours west of Denver, Vail’s fresh air, rugged beauty and charming pedestrian villages await visitors. Discover quaint Bavarian villages where outdoor activities abound and the performing arts flourish. Matching the incredible winter mountain experience, Vail from May through October is characterized by a rich culinary scene, family activities, world-class events and everything in between.



Rebecca Lewis
 Superpop | Cultural Communications
 [email protected]
(303) 918-5880 

Ramsey Cotter 
Summervail Art Workshop Legacy Project
 [email protected]
(970) 476-3131