Christo and
Jeanne-Claude

Land Art

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Christo and Jeanne-Claude, were artists noted for their large-scale, site-specific environmental installations, often large landmarks and landscape elements wrapped in fabric.

Born in Bulgaria and Morocco, respectively, the pair met and married in Paris in the late 1950s. Originally working under Christo's name, they later credited their installations to both "Christo and Jeanne-Claude." Until his own recent death, Christo continued to plan and execute projects after Jeanne-Claude's death in 2009.

Their work was typically large, visually impressive, and controversial, often taking years and sometimes decades of careful preparation – including technical solutions, political negotiation, permitting and environmental approval, hearings, and public persuasion.

Christo and Jean Claude described the myriad elements that brought the projects to fruition as integral to the artwork itself, and said their projects contained no deeper meaning than their immediate aesthetic impact; their purpose being simply for joy, beauty, and new ways of seeing the familiar.

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Photo: Wolfgang Volz

The Gates

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Christo
The Thousand Gates (Project)
Drawing 1979
Pencil, charcoal, pastel and tape
11 x 14" (28 x 35.5 cm)
Photo: Eeva-Inkeri
© 1979 Christo

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Christo and Jeanne-Claude
The Gates, Central Park, New York City, 1979-2005
Photo: Wolfgang Volz
© 2005 Christo and Jeanne-Claude

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Christo and Jeanne-Claude
The Gates, Central Park, New York City, 1979-2005
Photo: Wolfgang Volz
© 2005 Christo and Jeanne-Claude

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Christo and Jeanne-Claude
The Gates, Central Park, New York City, 1979-2005
Photo: Wolfgang Volz
© 2005 Christo and Jeanne-Claude

Christo Vladimirov Javacheff was the second of three sons to Tzveta Dimitrov and Vladimir Javacheff, who worked at a textile manufacturer. Christo was shy and had a predilection for art. He received private art instruction at a young age and the support of his parents, who invited visiting artists to their house. Christo was particularly affected by events from World War II and his country's fluid borders. During evacuations, he and his brothers stayed with a family in the rural hills outside town, where Christo connected with nature and handicraft.

While Bulgaria was under repressive totalitarian rule, and Western art was suppressed, Christo pursued realistic painting through the mid-1950s. He was admitted into the Sofia Academy of Fine Arts in 1953 but found the school dull and stifling. Amid fears of further Russian suppression in Hungary, Christo decided to flee to Vienna as a railcar stowaway. He had little money after paying the bribe, did not speak the language, had deserted during his Bulgarian military service, and feared being trapped in a refugee camp.

In Vienna, he stayed with a family friend (who had not expected him), studied at the Vienna Fine Arts Academy, and surrendered his passport to seek political asylum as a stateless person. There, he supported himself with commissions and briefly visited Italy with the academy, whose program he found equally unhappy as the one before it. At the behest of a friend relocated from Sofia, he saved up to visit Geneva in late 1957. In violation of his visa, he continued to pursue commissions (whose works he would sign with his family name, reserving his given name for more serious work) and was transformed after visiting the Kunstmuseum Basel and Kunsthaus Zürich. In January 1958, he first began to wrap things, as would become his trademark, starting with a paint can. His collection of wrapped household items would be known as his Inventory. In February 1958, Christo left for Paris, having received a visa with the assistance of a Sofia academy connection.

Christo and Jeanne-Claude met in October 1958 when he was commissioned to paint a portrait of her mother, Précilda de Guillebon. Initially, Christo was attracted to Jeanne-Claude's half-sister, Joyce. Jeanne-Claude was engaged to Philippe Planchon. Shortly before her wedding, Jeanne-Claude became pregnant by Christo. Although she married Planchon, Jeanne-Claude left him immediately after their honeymoon. Christo and Jeanne-Claude's son, Cyril, was born on May 11, 1960.

The Floating Piers

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Christo
The Floating Piers (Project for Lake Iseo, Italy)
Collage 2014
Pencil, wax crayon, enamel paint, photograph by Wolfgang Volz, map, fabric sample and tape
17 x 22" (43.2 x 55.9 cm)
Collection Ingrid and Thomas Jochheim, Germany
Photo: André Grossmann
© 2014 Christo

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One by one, workers install the 100 by 16 meter sections to connect the island of San Paolo with the island of Monte Isola, May 2016
Photo: Wolfgang Volz

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From the evening of June 15 to the evening of June 17, teams unfurl 100,000 square meters of shimmering dahlia-yellow fabric on the piers and pedestrian streets in Sulzano and Peschiera Maraglio
Photo: Wolfgang Volz

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Christo and Jeanne-Claude
The Floating Piers, Lake Iseo, Italy, 2014-16
Photo: Wolfgang Volz
© 2016 Christo

Surrounded Islands

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Christo
Surrounded Islands (Project for Biscayne Bay, Greater Miami, Florida)
Drawing 1982 in two parts
Pencil, charcoal, pastel, wax crayon, enamel paint, aerial photograph and fabric sample
15 x 96" and 42 x 96" (38 x 244 cm and 106.6 x 244 cm)
Photo: Wolfgang Volz
© 1982 Christo
Ref. # 36

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Christo and Jeanne-Claude
Surrounded Islands, Biscayne Bay, Greater Miami, Florida, 1980-83
Photo: Wolfgang Volz
© 1983 Christo

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Christo and Jeanne-Claude
Surrounded Islands, Biscayne Bay, Greater Miami, Florida, 1980-83
Photo: Wolfgang Volz
© 1983 Christo

The Pont Neuf Wrapped

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Christo
The Pont Neuf Wrapped (Project for Pont Neuf - Paris; Quai des Grandes Augustins, Quai du Louvre, Quai de la Megisserie and Quai de Conti)
Collage 1976
Pencil, fabric, twine, photograph by Wolfgang Volz, wax crayon, pastel, charcoal and map
22 x 28" (56 x 71 cm)
Collection Montrasio Arte, Monza, Italy
Photo: André Grossmann
© 1976 Christo

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Christo and Jeanne-Claude
The Pont Neuf Wrapped, Paris, 1975-85
Photo: Wolfgang Volz
© 1985 Christo

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Christo and Jeanne-Claude
The Pont Neuf Wrapped, Paris, 1975-85
Photo: Wolfgang Volz
© 1985 Christo

Running Fences

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Christo
Running Fences (Project for the West Coast of USA)
Collage 1972
Pencil, charcoal, wax crayon, fabric and staples
22 x 28" (56 x 71 cm)
Private collecion
Photo: Archive
© 1972 Christo

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Christo
Running Fence (Project for Marin and Sonoma Counties, State of California)
Drawing 1976 in two parts
Pencil, pastel, charcoal, wax crayon, topographic map, technical data, tape and ballpoint pen
15 x 96" and 42 x 96" (38 x 244 cm and 106.6 x 244 cm)
Photo: Eeva-Inkeri
© 1976 Christo
Ref. # 17

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Christo and Jeanne-Claude
Running Fence, Sonoma and Marin Counties, California, 1972-76
Photo: Wolfgang Volz
© 1976 Christo

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Christo and Jeanne-Claude
Running Fence, Sonoma and Marin Counties, California, 1972-76
Photo: Wolfgang Volz
© 1976 Christo

Valley Curtain

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Christo
Valley Curtain (Project for Colorado)
Collage 1970
Pencil, charcoal, crayon, enamel paint, fabric and staples
28 x 22" (71 x 56 cm)
Private collection
Photo: Archive
© 1970 Christo

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Christo and Jeanne-Claude
Valley Curtain, Rifle, Colorado, 1970-72
Photo: Shunk-Kender
© 1972 Christo

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Christo and Jeanne-Claude
Valley Curtain, Rifle, Colorado, 1970-72
Photo: Wolfgang Volz
© 1972 Christo

Wrapped Kunsthalle

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Christo
Kunsthalle Bern - Packed (Project for 50th Anniversary of the Kunsthalle Bern, Switzerland)
Drawing 1968
Pencil, way crayon and wash
40 x 60" (101.5 x 152.5 cm)
Photo: André Grossmann
© 1968 Christo

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Christo and Jeanne-Claude
Wrapped Kunsthalle, Bern, Switzerland, 1967-68
Photo: Carlo Bavagnoli
© 1968 Christo

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Christo and Jeanne-Claude
Wrapped Kunsthalle, Bern, Switzerland, 1967-68
Photo: Balthasar Burkhard
© 1968 Christo

L'Arc de Triomphe, Wrapped


In 1961, three years after they met in Paris, Christo and Jeanne-Claude began creating works of art in public spaces. One of their projects was to wrap a public building.

At the time, Christo, who was renting a small room near the Arc de Triomphe, made several studies for a project there, including, in 1962, a photomontage of the Arc de Triomphe wrapped, seen from the Avenue Foch. In the 1970s and 1980s, Christo created a few additional studies. Almost 60 years later, the project will finally be realized.

"Thirty-five years after Jeanne-Claude and I wrapped the Pont-Neuf, I am eager to work in Paris again to realize our project for the Arc de Triomphe," declares Christo.

However, and even more importantly, he will be back in the city where he met Jeanne-Claude. ‘Perhaps she is behind this, ’ Christo says with a winning smile. ‘Because, you know, as they say, “We will always have Paris.” ’

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Jeanne-Claude on the Pont de la Tournelle, Paris, 1962
Photo: Christo

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Christo on the Quai de la Tournelle, Paris, 1962
Photo: Jeanne-Claude

L’Arc de Triomphe, Wrapped, is to go ahead posthumously in Paris in September 2021
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Christo
Arc de Triumphe, Wrapped (Project for Paris)
Collage 1988
Pencil, fabric, twine, pastel, charcoal, wax crayon, map and Photostat
28 x 22" (71 x 56 cm)
Photo: André Grossmann
© 1988 Christo

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Christo
The Arc de Triomphe de l'Etoile, Wrapped (Place de Charles de Gaulle) Project
Collage 2017
Pencil, wax crayon, enamel paint, photograph by Wolfgang Volz, map and tape
14 x 11" (35.5 x 28 cm)
Photo: André Grossmann
© 2017 Christo

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Christo
L'Arc de Triomphe, Wrapped (Project for Paris) Place de l'Etoile - Charles de Gaulle
Collage 2019
Pencil, wax crayon, enamel paint, photograph by Wolfgang Volz and tape on brown board
11 x 8 1/2" (28 x 21.5 cm)
Photo: André Grossmann
© 2019 Christo

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