Christo and his wife and collaborator, Jeanne-Claude, who died in November, with a rendering of “Over the River” in February 2009. (Photo: Dominic Favre/European PressPhoto Agency)

Assessing a work of art using in-depth technical analysis sounds a bit like writing a scholarly treatise about a joke. If you peer inside too deeply, armed with numbers and equations, does “Mona Lisa” still dazzle? And is “A man walks into a bar…” still funny?

But that, in a nutshell, is the question that faces the artist Christo and a giant federal agency called the Bureau of Land Management. On Friday, the bureau issued what may be the first ever draft environmental impact statement purely about art — specifically a project called “Over the River,” which Christo has proposed building along a stretch of the Arkansas River in southern Colorado.

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Kirk Johnson
New York Times

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