With one dramatic no, a major artist has just escalated the culture world’s war against Donald J. Trump.
For more than 20 years, the artist Christo has worked tirelessly and spent $15 million of his own money to create a vast public artwork in Colorado that would draw thousands of tourists and rival the ambition of “The Gates,” the saffron transformation of Central Park that made him and Jeanne-Claude, his collaborator and wife, two of the most talked-about artists of their generation.
But Christo said this week that he had decided to walk away from the Colorado project — a silvery canopy suspended temporarily over 42 miles of the Arkansas River — because the terrain, federally owned, has a new landlord he refuses to have anything to do with: President Trump.
His decision is by far the most visible — and costly — protest of the new administration from within the art world, whose dependence on ultra-wealthy and sometimes politically conservative collectors has tended to inhibit galleries, museums and artists from the kind of full-throated public disavowal of Mr. Trump expressed by some other segments of the creative world. Last week, the artist Richard Prince fired an opening salvo, returning a $36,000 payment for an artwork depicting Ivanka Trump, the president’s daughter, owned by her family.