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Christo and Jeanne-Claude

Updated: Nov 23, 2020

Artists 256 & 257

Christo and Jeanne-Claude

Altering the Environment


Installation art

The artistic Duo of Christo and Jeanne-Claude were urban and environmental artists. Christo Vladimirov Javacheff (born 1935-2020) who was an American Bulgarian-born artist and his life partner and wife Jeanne-Claude Marie Denat (1935-2009) was an American, French-born artist.

They met in 1958 and created their first work ‘Packages and Wrapped Objects.’ The pair are known for their urban and environmental installation art in which they wrap landscapes.

This originated when in 1958 Christo began to wrap objects. He used everyday objects such as shoes, telephones and empty paint cans to make his sculptures.

Once wrapped, the objects would take on a new identity. By wrapping them, he would reveal some of the most basic features and proportions of the object by concealing the actual item.

Christo and Jeanne-Claude later expanded this idea in projects such as The Pont Neuf Wrapped and the Wrapped Reichstag, but on a much larger scale.

While the intricate details of the structures are hidden, the essence of the structures are revealed all the while making the imposing and solid structure seem airy and nomadic.

The use of real fabric also gives the work a fragile, sensual and temporary character while wrapping objects is definitely an important part of their œuvre, Christo and Jeanne-Claude have done very few wrappings in comparison to their whole portfolio of artworks.

It is easier for some to grasp the wrapping concept and refer to their artworks entirely as "wrapping," but the work is more about altering an environment than wrapping – which is only one way to do that. The last time the artists had an idea for a wrapping was in 1975, when they had the idea of wrapping the Pont-Neuf in Paris, ten years before they realized the work of art.

Their inspiration come from ideas from their two hearts, and two brains. The artists never create works that come from other people's ideas. Never. Christo and Jeanne-Claude have completed more than 20 projects and twice as much have not succeeded. The artists could not get permission to create those projects, and the artists lost interest.

Some projects took many years of refusals until the artists could complete the project: 32 years for Wrapped Trees (1966-98), 26 years for The Gates (1971-2005), 25 years for the Wrapped Reichstag (1971-95), 10 years for The Pont Neuf Wrapped (1975-85), 5 years for Running Fence (1972-76), etc.

The reason their works are so big is due to the fact that Christo and Jeanne-Claude's works are entire environments, whether they are urban or rural.

The artists temporarily use one part of the environment. In doing so, we see and perceive the whole environment with new eyes and a new consciousness. The effect lasts longer than the actual work of art.

Years after every physical trace has been removed and the materials recycled, original visitors can still see and feel them in their minds when they return to the sites of the artworks.

Due to the large scale of the installations, Christo and Jeanne-Claude’s work has been “based on its immediate aesthetic impact rather that deeper meanings,” explained the artists. “The purpose of our art is simply to create new ways of seeing familiar landscapes.”

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