Christo Vladimirov Javacheff, who was celebrated for creating monumental environmental artworks with his late wife Jeanne-Claude Denat de Guillebon, has died at the age of 84. Simply referred to as Christo and Jeanne-Claude, the duo were defined by the scope and ambition of their works, as well as their ephemeral nature.
Born in Bulgaria in 1935, Christo studied in Sofia and defected to the west in 1957, stowing away on a train from Prague to Vienna. He met Jeanne-Claude two years later, and they would begin creating large-scale public artworks in 1961. Their first project involved covering barrels at the Port of Cologne, and the following year they barricaded a street in Paris with oil barrels. This launched their careers, and they were henceforth represented by New York’s prestigious Castelli gallery.
The pair went on to create large-scale works which often involved covering huge natural monuments in fabric. In 1969, they shrouded the coast and cliffs of Little Bay in Sydney in grey fabric, creating the largest single artwork of the time. In 1972 they made Valley Curtain, erecting a 14,000-metre orange curtain across a Colorado canyon called Rifle Gap.
Their profile reached its zenith in the 1980s, and they were able to take on increasingly ambitious projects including surrounding 11 islands in Miami’s Biscayne Bay with bright pink floating fabric. In 1986, they led a team of 300 workers in wrapping the Pont-Neuf bridge in Paris. Their most famous achievement came in 1995, when they covered the Reichstag in Berlin in aluminium fabric.
Other famous projects included the installation of more than 7,500 vinyl gates in New York’s Central Park, and the floating of 7,506 barrels on the Serpentine in London’s Hyde Park in 2018. A planned work, L’Arc de Triomphe, Wrapped, will be made posthumously in accordance with both artists’ wishes in Paris next year.
Christo is survived by his son, Cyril Christo, a photographer, filmmaker, and animal rights activist.