Christo and Jeanne-Claude: Beauty, science and art will always triumph

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Andrea Dall'Asta, SJ

 Andrea Dall'Asta, SJ / Art / 10 September 2020


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Environmental art

On May 31, at the age of 84, Christo Vladimirov Javacheff died. Known as Christo, he was one of the major exponents of Land Art, although the artist actually preferred to speak of Environmental Art. This is the message from the artist’s press office: “Christo lived his life to the fullest, not only dreaming up what seemed impossible but realizing it. 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. Christo and Jeanne-Claude have always made clear that their artworks in progress should be continued after their deaths. In accord with Christo’s wishes, ‘L’arc de Triomphe, Wrapped’ in Paris, is still on track for September.”[1]

Born on June 13, 1935, in Gabrovo, Bulgaria, Christo studied at the Sofia Academy. In 1957 he moved to Prague, then went to Vienna, and later to Geneva, in the first case to escape the repressive communist regime. In 1958 he arrived in Paris. Constantly on the road, he became a stateless person on the margins of society. For a living, he painted some portraits signed with the family name, Javacheff.

On one of these occasions he met Jeanne-Claude Denat de Guillebon, who commissioned him to paint a portrait of her mother. Soon, this initial relationship transformed into an association of art and life that would last. Even after Jeanne-Claude’s death in 2009, the artist continued to pursue the artistic project started by the couple, under the names of both: “Christo and Jeanne-Claude.” He landed in the United States in 1964.

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