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Christo and Jeanne-Claude

Christo at The Floating Piers (June 2016) – Photo: Wolfgang Volz

He lived his life to the fullest, “not only dreaming up what seemed impossible but realizing it,” his studio wrote in a statement yesterday 1 June. “Christo and Jeanne-Claude’s artwork brought people together in shared experiences across the globe, and their work lives on in our hearts and memories.”

Christo Vladimirov Javacheff, artist known worldwide as Christo, has died at his home in New York, on 1 June 2020. He was born on 13 June 1935 — same day as his partner Jeanne Claude Denat de Guillebone — in Gabrovo, Bulgaria, and studied at the Fine Arts Academy in Sofia. He met Jeanne-Claude in 1958 in Paris, then moved to New York with her in 1964, where they lived in an illegal building in SoHo that they eventually bought. Jeanne Claude passed in 2009, Christo lived in this city for 56 years.

Wall of Oil Barrels / The Iron Curtain, Rue Visconti, Paris (1961-62) – Photo: Jean-Dominique Lajoux
Wrapped Coast, One Million Square Feet, Little Bay, Sydney, Australia (1969) – Photo: Shunk-Kender

Originally working under Christo’s name, they later credited their installations to both “Christo and Jeanne-Claude”. Together, they created monumental environmental works of art around the world: They covered the coast of Little Bay in Sydney in billowing white fabric, dotted hillsides in Japan and California with colorful umbrellas, hung an orange curtain across a valley in Colorado, wrapped the Reichstag in Berlin, islands in Miami’s Biscayne Bay and the Pont Neuf in Paris, and connected two islands in Italy’s Lake Iseo with the shore — The Floating Piers. In every instance, the work lives on only in images and archival materials. Each place returns to its natural state, even if that state is one of constant evolution.

Their 1974 Valley Curtain project became a short documentary film, directed by Albert and David Maysles and nominated for an Academy Award for Best Documentary Short.

Valley Curtain, Rifle, Colorado (1972) – Photo: Wolfgang Volz
The Pont Neuf Wrapped, Paris, 1975–85 – Photo: Wolfgang Volz
Surrounded Islands, Biscayne Bay, Miami, Florida (1983) – Photo: Wolfgang Volz
Surrounded Islands, Biscayne Bay, Miami, Florida (1983) – Photo: Wolfgang Volz
The Umbrellas, Japan (1984) – Photo: Wolfgang Volz
The Gates, Central Park, New York City (February 2005) – Photo: Wolfgang Volz
The Floating Piers, Lake Iseo, Italy (2016) – Photo: Lino Olmo
The Floating Piers, Lake Iseo, Italy (2016) – Photo: Lino Olmo
The Floating Piers, Lake Iseo, Italy (2016) – Photo: Antonio Cadei
Christo and Jeanne-Claude in front of Running Fence work, California (1976)
Christo and Jeanne-Claude at The Gates, New York City (February 2005) – Photo: Wolfgang Volz

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