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Christo and Jeanne Claude- With Love Through Art

20th century

Christo and Jeanne Claude- With Love Through Art

If two people are born on precisely same day, they must be destined to meet. He was Bulgarian, she was French. They met when he was called in to paint a portrait of her mother. They fell in love and began working together to create magnificent yet ephemeral works of environmental art. Read about Christo and Jeanne-Claude love story.

Christo and Jeanne-Claude in Christo's studio, New York City, 1976 , Photo: Fred W. McDarrah/Getty Images, © 1976 Christo, christo and jeanne claude love

Christo and Jeanne-Claude in Christo’s studio, New York City, 1976 , Photo: Fred W. McDarrah/Getty Images, © 1976 Christo

They both were born on June 13, 1935. He was born into an industrialist family, she was a daughter of a military stationed in Marocco. In 1956 Christo left Bulgaria, stayed for a year in Czech Republic and Austria, to arrive in 1958 to France. Jeanne-Claude lived with her family in Tunisia to then move in to Paris in 1957. They met in October 1958 but at first Christo was attracted more to Jeanne-Claude’s half-sister than to her…

Christo and Jeanne-Claude at Galleria La Salita, Rome, with "Wrapped Shoes, 1963" , Photo: Bettmann/Corbis, © 1963 Christo, christo and jeanne claude love

Christo and Jeanne-Claude at Galleria La Salita, Rome, with “Wrapped Shoes, 1963” , Photo: Bettmann/Corbis, © 1963 Christo

Then things happened and Jeanne-Claude was pregnant. She married, however, a man she had been previously engaged to, just to leave him right after their honeymoon. Christo and Jeanne-Claude’s son Cyril was born in 1960, while their first collaborative artwork was created a year after. In 1964 they left Europe for the United States.

Paris, 1985 Christo and Jeanne-Claude at The Pont Neuf Wrapped Photo: Wolfgang Volz © 1985 Christo, christo and jeanne claude love

Christo and Jeanne-Claude at The Pont Neuf Wrapped, Paris 1985, Photo: Wolfgang Volz, © 1985 Christo

What was their art like? The young artists wrapped daily objects like books, shoes, trolleys, in paper or fabric and then propped them in familiar surroundings to create an effect of estrangement, confusion and defamiliarization. Many had mixed feelings about it, critics were perplexed. But the couple kept on working, expanding scale with every project. Their wrapped, among others, the Parisian bridge Pont Neuf or the Reichstag in Berlin…

New York City, 2005 Christo and Jeanne-Claude at The Gates Photo: Wolfgang Volz © 2005 Christo, christo and jeanne claude love

Christo and Jeanne-Claude at The Gates, New York City, 2005, Photo: Wolfgang Volz, © 2005 Christo

Their environmental works have always raised many controversies but the couple kept on making large scale artworks, not only wrappings. They used to fly separately as a provision in case of a plane crash: one of them should survive and continue the work. They didn’t have to worry about it until 2009 when Jeanne-Claude died. Christo keeps on making, his last work was made in Italy in summer 2016. Christo made floating walkways letting people walk on water.

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Magda, art historian and Italianist, she writes about art because she cannot make it herself. She loves committed and political artists like Ai Weiwei or the Futurists; like Joseph Beuys she believes that art can change us and we can change the world.


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