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Christo, artist known for massive displays of art dies at age 84

by Elva Wahl (2020-06-14)

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Christo, known for massive, ephemeral public arts projects, died Sunday at his home in New York. He was 84.

His death was announced on Twitter and the artist's web page. No cause of death was given.

Along with late wife Jeanne-Claude, the artists' careers were defined by their ambitious art projects that quickly disappeared soon after they were erected. 

Christo, known for massive, ephemeral public arts projects, has died

Cristo's death was announced Sunday on Twitter and the artist's web page. He was 84

Christo's wrapping of the Reichstag in Berlin in 1995

In 2005, he installed more than 7,500 vinyl gates in New York's Central Park and wrapped the Reichstag in Berlin in fabric with an aluminum sheen in 1995.

Their $26 million Umbrellas project erected 1,340 blue umbrellas installed in Japan and 1,760 blue umbrellas in Southern California in 1991.

The statement said the artist's next project, L'Arc de Triomphe, Wrapped, is slated to appear in September in Paris as planned. An exhibition about Christo and Jeanne-Claude´s work is also scheduled to run from July through October at the Centre Georges Pompidou.

'Christo lived his life to the fullest, not only dreaming up what seemed impossible but realizing it,' his office said in a statement. 





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Christo walks on his monumental installation The Floating Piers he created with late wife Jeanne-Claude at the lake Iseo, northern Italy

Christo, left, and his wife and partner Jeanne-Claude, participate in opening 'The Gates' project in New York's Central Park in 2005

Pedestrians walk along the edge of Harlem Meer under 'The Gates' project

Artists Christo and Jeanne-Claude walk with then New York City Mayor tour sapa Michael Bloomberg before unfurling the first gate in the The Gates in Central Park

The Gates were displayed along 23 miles of paved paths throughout Central Park and was the largest public art display in New York City history

'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.'

Born in Bulgaria in 1935, Christo Vladimirov Javacheff studied at the Fine Arts Academy in Sofia before moving to Prague in 1957, then Vienna, then Geneva. It was in Paris in 1958 where he met Jeanne-Claude Denat de Guillebon. They were born on the same day (June 13) in the same year (1935), and, according to him, 'In the same moment' and would become partners in life and art.

Christo was already wrapping smaller found objects, like cars and furniture. After he met Jeanne-Claude, their scale broadened. Within three years they were working together on an installation of oil drums and tarp on the docks in Cologne.

Although their large scale outdoor and indoor projects were collaborative, they were all credited solely to Christo until 1994, when they revealed Jeanne-Claude´s contributions. The decision, they said, tour sapa was theirs and deliberate since it was difficult enough for even one artist to make a name for himself.

Christo is pictured in 2018 unveiling his first UK outdoor work, a 20m high installation on Serpentine Lake, with accompanying exhibition at at The Serpentine Gallery

View of The Mastaba Project at Hyde Park in London

A man stands at the top of remains of the Berlin Wall and looks at the wrapped Reichstag building in 1995

Christo gestures during an interview on his installation 'The Floating Piers' on the Lake Iseo, northern Italy

Aerial view of the installation The Floating Piers. The work in June 2016 connects the village of Sulzano to the small island of Monte Isola and another very small island

The pair moved to New York in 1964, where they liked to say that they were illegal aliens in an illegal building in SoHo for a few years. They eventually bought that building and would call the city home for the rest of their lives.

Jeanne-Claude died in 2009 at age 74 from complications of a brain aneurysm. After her death, Christo said she was argumentative and very critical and always asking questions and he missed all of that very much.

In a 2018 interview with The Art Newspaper, Christo spoke about his signature wrapping aesthetic. In the instance of the Reichstag, he said, covering it with fabric made the Victorian sculptures, ornament and decoration disappear and 'highlight the principal proportion of architecture.'

Another aerial view of the installation The Floating Piers

Artist Christo explains to a visitor inside his 'Big Air Package' artwork at the Gasometer in 2013 Oberhausen, Germany, as he visits his work two days before the exhibition's official opening

'But, like classical sculpture, all our wrapped projects are not solid buildings; they are moving with the wind, they are breathing,' he said. 'The fabric is very sensual and inviting; it´s like a skin.'

The two made a point of paying for all of their works on their own and did not accept scholarship or donations.

'I like to be absolutely free, to be totally irrational with no justification for what I like to do,' he said. 'I will not give up one centimeter of my freedom for anything.'

Bulgarian-born artist Christo gives a press conference on his Umbrellas project in Oct 1991

Christo is pictured surveying Little Bay in Sydney, Australia, before wrapping it in yellow polypropylene, in 1969. Christo worked together with his wife Jeanne-Claude on the project

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