Christo and Jeanne-Claude are a couple united by an indissoluble artistic fellowship lasted a lifetime.
In art history, numerous are the couples united by an indissoluble artistic and human fellowship, which sometimes lasts a lifetime. Christo and Jeanne-Claude are a clear example of this, two visionary creators of extraordinary large-scale artworks that undoubtedly revolutionized the artistic scene over the last decades.
Symbiotic since their birth
The symbiosis of Jeanne-Claude and Christo seems to have been determined since their birth, which occurred – a more unique than rare coincidence – on the same day of the same month of the same year: June 13, 1935. While Christo Vladimirov Javacheff was born in Gabrovo, Bulgaria, and trained at the Academy of Fine Arts in Sofia, Jeanne-Claude Denat de Guillebon came into this world in the Moroccan Casablanca and studied Latin and philosophy in Tunis.
The two met in Paris in 1958 and, although already engaged with other people, they started having an affair from which a child was born in 1960: Cyril. They will never split up.
Christo and Jeanne-Claude.
The first steps together in art
Christo joined Nouveau réalisme and soon became known in the Parisian artistic scene thanks to his “packages” of everyday objects, covered but emphasized, hidden yet enhanced. However, fame came in 1961, when he created his first large-scale installation together with his life companion: in order to convey their complaint against the raising of the Berlin Wall, the couple erected their own wall entirely made up of oil barrels that blocked Rue Visconti, in the French capital.
This is just the first of many works born from the winning combination of the creative spirit of Christo and the organizational skills of Jeanne-Claude, who actually had approached art for love.
The large-scale unique installations
In 1964 the couple moved to the United States, where they became famous exponents of Land Art, which was founded in 1967, and was based on a temporary intervention on the landscape, on both urban and natural landscape which could be found in the most different parts of the world: Australia, California, Florida, Japan, the parks in Basel and New York, the monuments in Paris, in Berlin, in Rome and in Milan were the protagonists of the “packaging” and of the most famous installations.
It is a long, self-financed, free and meticulously designed art, widely shared both for the number of enjoyers and for that of the artists: an ephemeral art which is, therefore, free, because no one will never acquire it.
Christo e Jeanne-Claude, Wrapped Trees, Fondation Beyeler and Berower Park, Riehen, Switzerland, 1997-98, photo by Wolfgang Volz © 1998 Christo.
Christo and Jeanne-Claude, Wrapped Reichstag, Berlin, 1971-95, photo by Wolfgang Volz, © 1995 Christo.
The last project together… or perhaps not?
From June 18 to July 3, 2016, several floating piers connected the Lombard town Sulzano to the islands of San Paolo and Monte Isola, having more than one million people walk along the waters of Lake Iseo. Unfortunately, Jeanne-Claude, who was the creator of the project with Christo, did not have the chance of seeing it, having passed away in 2009. However, their artistic and human relationship continues even after death, given the many “packaging” designed together which are still to be realized. Always on a large scale, just as their love was, and will continue to be.