Contemporary artist Christo, known for spectacular, temporary public artworks that unfurl across land and cityscapes, has created what's being billed as the world's largest indoor art installation.
Big Air Package — a massive, inflated fabric dome standing 90m high and 50m across — completely fills Germany's Gasometer Oberhausen, a huge former natural gas holding tank that was converted into an event space and exhibition venue in 1988.
Visitors entering through airlocks can move inside the voluminous sculpture, created from more than 20,000 square metres of light, translucent fabric.
The effect is to leave visitors "virtually swimming in light," the Bulgarian-born American artist said.
"It feels like being in a heavenly chamber," his longtime photographer and project manager Wolfgang Volz told German media.
Officially opening to the public on Saturday, Big Air Package is Christo's first project without his wife and collaborator Jeanne-Claude, who died in 2009 at the age of 74.
The pair, who met in Paris in 1958, created dramatic public artworks together over five decades. Memorable pieces include the brilliantly hued The Gates that snaked through New York's Central Park and the whimsical army of umbrellas marching across a Japanese valley. The couple also enveloped massive structures in fabric, such as Germany's historic Reichstag building and Parisian bridge Pont Neuf.
They financed all their installations themselves by selling their preparatory drawings, collages, scale models and lithographs. They also recycle all materials used after each project is achieved.
Christo, now 77 years old, said he is trying to finish more of the projects he and his wife had dreamed up and planned out long before her death.
One major work they'd prepared and that he still hopes to bring to life is Over The River, an installation that proposes to drape large-scale, translucent, silver fabric panels over sections of the Arkansas River, across a 50km stretch in Colorado.
Another is The Mastaba, which would stack 410,000 multicoloured oil drums in the pattern of an ancient flat-roofed tomb in a stretch of the United Arab Emirates desert. Unlike the couple's other works, this monumental work would be left in place permanently.
"I don't know how much time is left," Christo told German news outlet Spiegel. "By promoting several projects simultaneously, we try to push things forward."
Big Air Package will remain on display in the western Germany industrial city of Oberhausen through Dec. 30.