Christo Vladimirov Javacheff, known for his monumental environmental works of art with his late wife, Jeanne-Claude Denat de Guillebon, has died. He was 84 years old.
Together, known simply as Christo and Jeanne-Claude, they wrapped iconic landmarks in fabric, 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 survived by his son, Cyril Christo, photographer, director and animal rights activist. Jeanne-Claude died of a brain aneurysm in 2009.
Christo: “I am a totally irrational artist”
After his death, Christo devoted himself to completing their concepts. In 2016, he created their work “The Floating Piers” on Lake Iseo in Italy, a project they had imagined in 1970. For 16 days, golden paths appeared on the lake, supported by 220,000 polyethylene cubes. Like many of their works, it has been a popular success. About 270,000 people showed up to walk on the 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 it clear that their ongoing works continue after their death. L’Arc de Triomphe, Wrapped (Project for Paris ) there is still an active track for September 18 – 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 a semester at the Academy of Fine Arts in Vienna before arriving in Paris, where he met Jeanne-Claude in 1958. He had already started to wrap objects, such as furniture and oil drums, and they started working together in 1961 For decades, the couple only used Christo’s name, until 1994, when Jeanne-Claude was retroactively added to many works as her collaborator.
The artists insisted that their ambitious projects were about “joy and beauty”, as Jeanne-Claude once said in 2002. However, they did not create their works in a political vacuum, and for one of their first collaborations they stacked barrels of oil to barricade a street in Paris to protest the Berlin wall.
Meeting the earth and the temporarily altered urban landscapes of Christo and Jeanne-Claude could be a bizarre, altering perception experience, and it took years – and sometimes decades – to take off. The preparation of the Reichstag took 24 years from concept to completion; the artists also considered the preliminary work part of their art, naming it the “software” period while the “hardware” period included the time when physical work was materialized.
“Surrounded Islands”, Biscayne Bay, Greater Miami, Florida, 1980-83 Credit: Wolfgang Volz / Christo and Jeanne-Claude
In 1980, the couple began designing “Surrounded Islands” by renting 11 islands in Biscayne Bay in Miami from the city for around $ 13,000 to surround their perimeters in a vivid pink polypropylene fabric.
For three years, they worked tirelessly with their staff – which included lawyers, civil engineers and a maritime engineer, marine biologist and manatee specialist – to bring their vision to life, facing a number of obstacles to obtaining permits and a federal case. started by a wildlife paramedic. “Surrounded Islands” was finally inaugurated in 1983 and was considered crucial for Miami’s rejuvenation as a cultural destination in the 1980s. The couple countered any criticism regarding environmental concerns for their works, insisting that each site was restored to its original condition – and in the case of the “surrounding islands”, the cleaning of the earth of nearly 40 tons of waste.
Christo unveils new jobs at Hyde Park in London
“We pay with our money! No subsidies, no money from the industry,” he said at the opening of “The London Mastaba” in 2018. “All these projects are started by us. Nobody asked us to do it. Nobody has us to wrap the Reichstag. Nobody asked us to install floating pontoons. We decided to do exactly what we like to do. “