Christo, the artist known for his epic wrapping artworks, has died aged 84
“Beauty, science and art will always triumph” – the artist and his wife Jeanne-Claude transformed world landmarks into sculptures and made giant installations in nature.
- Jenny Brewer
- 1 June 2020
Christo, the artist known for wrapping world landmarks in fabric to create monumental works of art, has died aged 84. Together with his wife Jeanne-Claude, who died in 2009, Christo was dedicated to sculpture of epic proportions, where the public was invited to see their surroundings from a different perspective.
The duo's best known projects include Wrapped Coast, Little Bay in Sydney, Australia (1968–69), Valley Curtain in Colorado (1970–72), Running Fence in California (1972–76), Surrounded Islands in Miami (1980–83), The Pont Neuf Wrapped in Paris (1975–85), The Umbrellas in Japan and California (1984–91), Wrapped Reichstag in Berlin (1972–95), The Gates in New York’s Central Park (1979–2005), The Floating Piers at Italy's Lake Iseo (2014–16), and The London Mastaba on London's Serpentine Lake (2016–18). All artworks were funded entirely by the artists themselves, through the sale of Christo’s preparatory studies and early works. They did not accept grants, sponsorships or volunteer help. In 2017, Christo abandoned plans for Over the River in Colorado, despite having already spent $15 million on it, so as not to benefit Trump.
Christo Vladimirov Javacheff was born in Gabrovo, Bulgaria in 1935, and lived in Prague, Vienna and Geneva before moving to Paris where he met Jeanne-Claude. The couple later settled in New York. After Jeanne-Claude passed away, Christo continued to realise projects the duo had planned together. The Floating Piers was the first project Christo completed solo, though it was planned by the duo in 1970. The project saw 100,000 square metres of saffron-yellow fabric laid across 3km of floating piers in Italy’s Lake Iseo. Christo said at the time that visitors would “feel like they are walking on water, or perhaps the back of a whale”.
Christo was working on his next epic project, to wrap the Arc de Triomphe, planned for this year but currently delayed due to the pandemic. In a statement from Christo’s office, it states the artists “always made clear that their artworks in progress be continued after their deaths”. Per their wishes, L'Arc de Triomphe, Wrapped in Paris, France, is currently still scheduled to take place from 18 September–3 October 2021.
The statement continues: “Christo lived his life to the fullest, not only dreaming up what seemed impossible but realizing 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.
“From early wrapped objects to monumental outdoor projects, Christo and Jeanne-Claude's artwork transcended the traditional bounds of painting, sculpture and architecture.
“In a 1958 letter Christo wrote, ‘Beauty, science and art will always triumph’. We hold those words closely today.”
An exhibition dedicated to the artistic duo's “Parisian years” will open at the Centre Pompidou when lockdown lifts. An exhibition of Christo and Jeanne-Claude’s projects are currently on show at PalaisPopulaire in Berlin, marking 25 years since the duo wrapped the Reichstag.