Christo, The Mastaba, 1240 Oil Barrels, 1997, Signed, Grainlitho and serigraph in colors, Edition 5/60, 18" x 22 3/4" Sheet Size,
Christo was a Bulgarian-born environmental installation artist who with his wife, Jeanne-Claude, routinely "wrapped" familiar structures and landscapes to prompt new ways of seeing through concealment. Christo was born Christo Vladimirov Javachef in Gabrovo, Bulgaria, on June 13th, 1935; Jeanne-Claude Denat de Guillebon was born on the very same day in Casablanca, Morocco. The couple met in October of 1958, when Christo was commissioned to paint a portrait of Jeanne-Claude's mother. Shortly thereafter, the pair were married and embarked on a series of collaborative projects beginning with Rideau de Fer, or Iron Curtain, in which they blocked off the Rue Visconti in Paris with oil barrels as a statement against the Berlin Wall. Many other monumental projects followed, including the Wrapped Coast of Little Bay in Sydney, Australia, and the famous Running Fence project, in which a 25-mile fabric fence, supported by steel cables, was constructed to traverse the valleys between Sonoma and Marin Counties in California. Using materials such as nylon and polypropylene fabric, concrete, aluminum, and steel, Christo and Jeanne-Claude worked to produce works that were striking in both their scale and their sensitivity to the environments they shrouded. These works were credited solely to Christo until 1994, when the outdoor works and large indoor installations were retroactively credited to Christo and Jeanne-Claude. The couple's projects were always designed to be temporary, the sites in question restored to their former states and most materials recycled. Christo was once quoted as saying, "Do you know that I don't have any artworks that exist? 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." Despite the controversy and enormous public speculation occasioned by the building of such large-scale works of art, Christo and Jeanne-Claude always maintained that their projects contained no deeper meaning than their immediate aesthetic impact. The purpose of their art, they contended, was always simply to create works of art or joy and beauty and to forge new ways of seeing familiar landscapes. Jeanne-Claude died at the age of 74 on November 18th, 2009. Plans for Christo's latest project, Over the River (Project for Arkansas River, State of Colorado) are currently in progress.