Artist Christo abandons Colorado project, citing Donald Trump

Concept art for Christo's proposed installation to drape the Arkansas River with fabric, at the Fremont Center for the Arts in Canon City, Colo., Feb 1, 2012.
Concept art for Christo's proposed installation to drape the Arkansas River with fabric, at the Fremont Center for the Arts in Canon City, Colo., Feb 1, 2012. PHOTO: NYTIMES

LOS ANGELES (AFP) - World-renowned artist Christo has abandoned his controversial project to drape nearly six miles (9.5 kilometres) of the Arkansas River in Colorado with silvery fabric, citing the new "landlord" in the White House.

"After pursuing Over The River, Project for the Arkansas River, State of Colorado, for 20 years and going through five years of legal arguments, I no longer wish to wait on the outcome," the 81-year-old Bulgarian-born artist said in an online statement.

The New York Times said the artist had dropped the temporary "Over the River" project because the land, which is federally owned, had a new boss - President Donald Trump.

"I came from a Communist country," Christo, who became a US citizen in 1973, told the Times.

"I use my own money and my own work and my own plans because I like to be totally free. And here now, the federal government is our landlord.

"They own the land. I can't do a project that benefits this landlord."

Asked by the paper to elaborate, he said his decision speaks for itself and, like many, he never imagined that Trump would be elected.

He said he planned to now focus his attention on his only permanent installation - The Mastaba - in the United Arab Emirates.

The artist's Over the River project, conceived in 1992 with his late wife Jeanne-Claude, has been bogged down in legal battles and had drawn mixed reactions from environmental and government groups.

Opponents expressed concern about the environmental impact of the project that was expected to take two and a half years to build.

The nearly six miles of silvery, luminous panels were to be suspended temporarily above the water in eight distinct areas along a 42-mile stretch of the Arkansas River.

Christo is famed for works on a massive scale, including a floating walkway on a lake in Italy last year that proved a smash hit with the public.

He also wrapped the Berlin Reischstag in fabric in 1995 and did the same with the Pont Neuf - the oldest bridge in Paris - in 1985.