What’s the key to wrapping a national monument in shimmery polypropylene fabric? Covering valleys near Tokyo and Los Angeles with thousands of umbrellas? Installing 7,503 saffron gates in Central Park? Top-notch negotiation skills. On Tuesday evening, Harvard Law School’s Program on Negotiation will award artists Christo and Jeanne-Claude with its 2008 Great Negotiator Award, an honor created in 2000 to recognize individuals whose lifetime achievements in the field of negotiation and dispute resolution have had a significant and lasting impact. Past winners include Bruce Wasserstein, George Mitchell, and former U.N. ambassador Richard Holbrooke.
At a Tuesday afternoon event at the Institute of Contemporary Art/Boston, Christo and Jeanne-Claude will review how they successfully negotiated with city governments, neighborhood groups, business interests, and others to host their large-scale art installations around the globe. “We have completed 18 projects and have failed 37 projects. We could not get permission to create 37 projects, and we lost interest,” write Christo and Jeanne-Claude on their website. “Many of our 18 completed projects have been refused, more than once each, but we persisted because it was still in our hearts.” Fun fact: Christo and Jeanne-Claude will take separate flights to Boston for next week’s festivities. They never fly in the same aircraft.