Christo Javacheff and Jeanne-Claude Denat de Guillebon were born on the same day in Bulgaria and Morocco, respectively. They met in Paris in 1958 and quickly married. Known for their large-scale, temporary works that alter familiar monuments and environmental spaces, the duo worked together for over 50 years to make their visions come alive. Christo and Jeanne-Claude were so dedicated that they flew in different airplanes with the intention that the other would still be able to continue their work in case one plane crashed.
They were collectively known as “Christo” until 1994, when their large outdoor projects were retroactively attributed to “Christo and Jeanne-Claude.” Christo was the master designer and Jeanne-Claude organized the projects’ installment. They typically used cloth or vinyl to cloak their subjects. The pair wrapped the Reichstag in Berlin, the Pont-Neuf Bridge in Paris, Australia’s Coastline, the Biscayne BayIslands in Miami and various monuments in Italy. Christo once said, “I think it takes much greater courage to create things to be gone than to create things that will remain.” His philosophy is that temporary works induce a sense of urgency and transience. People become attached to things that they know will pass.
The projects are funded entirely by Christo through the sale of his preparatory drawings. In 1992, Christo and Jeanne-Claude announced their plan to hang 5.9 miles of luminous fabric panels over a 42-mile stretch of the Arkansas River in Colorado for two weeks. The duo searched for the perfect location for years before settling on the Arkansas River for its ability to remain open to recreational activities during the installation. Although Christo and Jeanne-Cleaude extensively studied environmental impacts throughout their artistic careers, many still oppose the installment of the work due to its effect on the local ecosystem. Some critics find their technique controversial, but the cloaking draws attention to issues surrounding the environment. It conceals and reveals the object, changing your perception of its original appearance. The project is currently awaiting government approval.
Jeanne-Claude passed away in 2009. Christo continues to work in New York.
Christo and Jean-Claude have permanent collections in the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago, IL - Museum of Contemporary Art, San Diego, CA - the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, NY –the Tate Gallery, London, England – the Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam and the Albreight-Know Gallery, Buffalo, NY.
Related Categories: Site Specific Art, Large-Scale Sculpture, Outdoor Art, Art of the 1960s, Post-War American Art, Abstract Sculpture, Contemporary Participation, Northern Africa, Use of Common Materials, Sculpture.