Christo Vladimirov Javacheff, who is known for his monumental environmental works with his late wife Jeanne-Claude Denat de Guillebon, died. He was 84 years old.
Together they wrapped iconic structures, known as Christo and Jeanne-Claude, such as Pont Neuf in Paris in 1985 and Reichstag in Berlin in 1995; and in 2005 installed thousands of orange gates in Central Park, rebuilding Japan’s sacred torii gates.
He was survived by his son, Cyril Christo, his photographer, filmmaker and animal rights activist. Jeanne-Claude passed away in 2009 after a brain aneurysm.
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After his death, Christo is committed to completing his concepts. In 2016, he performed “Floating Piers” in Lake Iseo, Italy, a project they dreamed of in 1970. For 16 days, golden trails appeared, backed by 220,000 polyethylene cubes. Like many of his works, this was a popular success. During the first five days, approximately 270,000 people walked on the water.
The statement explaining his death stated that the Paris project will also continue: “Christo and Jeanne-Claude always announced that their ongoing works will continue after their deaths. L’Arc de Triomphe, Wrapped (Paris Project) still continues 18 September – 3 October 2021.
Christo and Jeanne-Claude, 1976 Credit: Wolfgang volz
Christo and Jeanne-Claude was born on the same day on June 13, 1935 – Christo in Bulgaria and Jeanne-Claude in Morocco. In 1957, Christo joined a period at the Academy of Fine Arts in Vienna before landing in Paris, where he met Jeanne-Claude in 1958. They started wrapping objects such as furniture and oil drums and started working together in 1961. For decades, the couple used the name of Christo until 1994, when Jeanto-Claude was collaboratively added back to many works.
The artists insisted that his ambitious projects, as Jeanne-Claude said in 2002, were about “joy and beauty”. However, they did not create their work in a political vacuum and stacked oil barrels as barricades for their earliest cooperation, a street in Paris to protest the Berlin Wall.
Meeting Christo and Jeanne-Claude’s temporarily altered lands and urban landscapes can be a turbulent, perception-changing experience, and they had to be withdrawn for years – sometimes decades. Equipping the Reichstag took 24 years to complete from the concept; artists also saw preliminary work as part of their art, and called it the “hardware” era, while the “hardware” era covered the time when physical work was performed.
“Surrounded Islands,” Biscayne Bay, Greater Miami, Florida, 1980-83 Credit: Wolfgang Volz / Christo and Jeanne-Claude
In 1980, the pair began planning “Surrounded Islands” by leasing 11 candidates from the city for about 13,000 dollars in Biscayne Bay from Miami to encircle their environment with vibrant pink polypropylene fabric.
For three years, the lawyer, civil engineer and naval engineer, their marine biologist and overseas specialist, brought their visions to get permission and face a series of federal barriers, getting tired. The case initiated by the wildlife paramedic. “Surrounded Islands” was finally opened in 1983 and is considered a cultural place for Miami’s rejuvenation in the 1980s. The couple resisted any criticism of environmental concerns for their work and insisted that they return each area to their original state – and in the case of “Surrounding Islands”, it cleans up about 40 tons of garbage.
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“We pay with our money! No grants, no money from the industry,” he said at the opening of “London Mastaba” in 2018. “All these projects are initiated by us. No one asked us to do this. No one asked us to build floating docks. We decided to do what we wanted to do.”