The Bulgarian artist Christo, famous for its avant-garde architectural installations, passed away on 31 May 2020 in New York City at 84 years old for natural causes. His artistic career lasted more than sixty years and this autumn he would have wrapped the Arc de Triomphe in Paris for 16 days. He has been a prolific artist in various fields, but he is known for having wrapped urban and rural landscapes with fabrics and ropes.
Christo died of natural causes at his home in New York City
Anyway we can hardly speak about Christo without mentioning his French wife, creative soulmate and lifetime business partner Jeanne-Claude. She died in 2009 and Christo kept on working on his art to give life to their projects and ideas.
As he said, “the work of art is a scream of freedom” so the large cloths that covered monuments or areas of the landscape had no meaning in themselves, but they aimed to convey joy and beauty. The artist enveloped to show things under a new light, for this reason everyone is free to interpret his artworks.
Each artwork is the result of a difficult process of years to obtain permissions to use public spaces and buildings. Initially the eye of the artist identified a portion of the world, selected it and focused his attention on it. Later, he proceeded to design the wrapping, obtain authorities’ permissions monetary resources. Christo and Jean-Claude never wanted to ask for any public subsidy to assert the freedom of their own brand: they independently raised the necessary funds through the sale of the projects’ sketches.
The long preparatory phase ending with the temporary opening of each work: for two weeks everyone can admire and appreciate it without having to pay a ticket. At that moment, the viewer interacts with the work and the modified landscape that surrounds it: the artist offers us a new vision of a reality that we took for granted, and that after the dismantling, we could see in a different way.
The temporary aspect of his creations was essential, he said: "They all go away when they're finished. Only the preparatory drawings and collages are left, giving my works an almost legendary character. I think it takes much greater courage to create things to be gone than to create things that will remain."
Let’s now focus on some of the more famous and controversial of Christo’s artworks!
In 1984, after 10 years of permissions’ requests, Christo and Jeanne-Claude wrapped the Pont Neuf in Paris. For a short period, it becomes a unique, unrepeatable unforgettable work of art. 7
In 1995 they covered the German parliament’s building (Reichstag) with 100,000 mt of fireproof material and 15 km of rope. The building that people see every day gives way to something more interesting that we no longer recognize.
In 2005, he installed The Gates in Central Park, a place the artist considered “the most unusual and surrealistic one in New York City”. The creation included 7,503 metal structures on which orange fabrics were fixed, for a total length of 37 kilometres within the city park.
In 2016, he realised The Floating Piers, a floating bridge on Lake Iseo (Italy) on which people can walk freely and become an integral part of the creation.
In this video Christo discusses the exhibition of the artists’ work at the Serpentine Gallery, which draws upon their use of barrels to create artworks and The London Mastaba, Serpentine Lake, Hyde Park 2016 - 2018, a temporary floating sculpture on The Serpentine lake.
Christo was a great artist who believed in the freedom of expression and pushed artistic boundaries to make each artwork a unique masterpiece.
Keywords: Christo avant-garde wrapped Jeanne-Claude freedom permissions sketches temporary opening
landscape Pont Neuf Reichstag The Gates The Floating Piers masterpiece