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Remembering Christo (1935-2020)

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Christo Javacheff has died aged 84. From early wrapped objects to monumental outdoor projects, transcending the traditional bounds of painting, sculpture and architecture, we look back at the work of the artists known as Christo and Jeanne-Claude

Christo, passed away of natural causes on 31 May 2020, at his home in New York City.

Together with his wife, Jeanne-Claude Denat de Guillebon, he was known for large-scale, site-specific environmental installations. They often worked with large landmarks and landscape elements that they wrapped in fabric – including the Reichstag in Berlin, the Pont-Neuf in Paris, Running Fence in California, and The Gates in New York City’s Central Park.

Christo and Jeanne-Claude’s work was typically large, visually impressive and controversial, often taking years and sometimes decades of careful preparation – including technical solutions, political negotiation, environmental approval, hearings and public persuasion. The pair refused grants, scholarships, donations or public money, instead financing the work via the sale of their own artwork; usually preparatory drawings of the hoped-for project in question.

Christo at The Floating Piers, June 2016

Christo at The Floating Piers, June 2016

Source: Wolfgang Volz

Christo at The Floating Piers, June 2016

Christo and Jeanne-Claude made clear that their artworks in progress were to be continued after their deaths. L’Arc de Triomphe, Wrapped, a project for Paris conceived in 1962, is planned to be on view for 16 days from Saturday, 18 September to Sunday, 3 October, 2021 (postponed from 2020 due to Covid-19).

The Arc de Triomphe will be wrapped in 25,000m² of recyclable polypropylene fabric in silvery blue, and 7,000m of red rope. Funded by Christo through the sale of his preparatory studies, drawings and collages of the project as well as scale models, works from the 1950s and 1960s and original lithographs on other subjects, it will receive no public funds. 

Christo’s office said: ‘Christo lived his life to the fullest, not only dreaming up what seemed impossible but realising it. 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. In a 1958 letter Christo wrote, “Beauty, science and art will always triumph.”’

A major exhibition about Christo and Jeanne-Claude’s work and time in Paris will be on show at the Centre Georges Pompidou from 1 July to 19 October, 2020.

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