Christo Vladimirov Javacheff, known for his monumental environmental works of art with his late wife, Jeanne-Claude Denat de Guillebon, died. He was 84 years old.
Together, known simply as Christo and Jeanne-Claude, they wrapped iconic landmarks in cloth, such as the Pont Neuf in Paris in 1985 and the Reichstag in Berlin in 1995; and mounted thousands of orange gates in Central Park, reminiscent of Japan’s sacred torii gates, in 2005.
He is survived by his son, Cyril Christo, photographer, filmmaker, and animal rights activist. Jeanne-Claude passed away after a brain aneurysm in 2009.
Christo: “I am a totally irrational artist”
After his death, Christo set about completing his concepts. In 2016, he realized his work “The Floating Docks” on Lake Iseo in Italy, a project they envisioned in 1970. For 16 days, golden paths appeared on the lake, supported by 220,000 polyethylene buckets. Like many of his works, it was a popular success. About 270,000 people showed up to walk on water during the first five days.
The statement announcing his death also indicated that the Paris project would go ahead: “Christo and Jeanne-Claude have always made clear that their works of art in progress will continue after his death. L’Arc de Triomphe, Wrapped (Project for Paris) is still underway from September 18 to October 3, 2021. “
Christo and Jeanne-Claude, 1976 Credit: Wolfgang Volz
Christo and Jeanne-Claude were born on the same day on June 13, 1935: Christo in Bulgaria and Jeanne-Claude in Morocco. In 1957 Christo attended the Vienna Academy of Fine Arts for a semester before landing in Paris, where he met Jeanne-Claude in 1958. He had already started wrapping objects, such as furniture and oil drums, and they started working together on 1961. For decades, the couple only used Christo’s name, until 1994 when Jeanne-Claude was retroactively added to many jobs as their collaborator.
The artists insisted that their ambitious projects were about “joy and beauty,” as Jeanne-Claude said in 2002. However, they did not create their works in a political vacuum, and for one of their first collaborations they piled up barrels of oil for barricades. A street in Paris protesting the Berlin Wall.
Meeting Christo and Jeanne-Claude temporarily altering landscapes and cityscapes could be an exuberant and perception-altering experience, and it took years, and sometimes decades, to accomplish. Equipping the Reichstag took 24 years from concept to completion; artists considered preliminary work also part of their art, naming it the “software” period, while the “hardware” period encompassed the time when physical work materialized.
“Surrounded Islands”, Biscayne Bay, Greater Miami, Florida, 1980-83 Credit: Wolfgang Volz / Christo and Jeanne-Claude
In 1980, the couple began planning “Surrounded Islands,” renting 11 islands in Miami’s Biscayne Bay of the city for nearly $ 13,000 to surround their perimeters with a hot pink polypropylene fabric.
For three years, they worked tirelessly with their staff, which included attorneys, civil engineers, and a marine engineer, marine biologist, and manatee specialist, to realize their vision, facing a series of barriers to obtaining federal permits and authorization. lawsuit initiated by a wildlife paramedic. “Surrounded Islands” was finally unveiled in 1983, and has been considered crucial to Miami’s rejuvenation in the 1980s as a cultural destination. The couple responded to any criticism of environmental concerns about their jobs, insisting that they restored each site to its original state, and in the case of the “Surrounding Islands,” clearing the land of nearly 40 tons of trash.
Christo presents new work at London’s Hyde Park
“We pay with our money! No subsidies, no industry money,” he said at the opening of “The London Mastaba” in 2018. “All of these projects are started by us. No one asked us to do it. No one asked us to get involved. the Reichstag. No one asked us to install floating docks. We decided that we do exactly what we like to do. “