Christo

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.

Christo

Christo (krĬs´tō), 1935–, Bulgarian-American artist, b. Gabrovo as Christo Vladimirov Javacheff, studied Sofia, Vienna, and Paris. His early experiments in assemblage led to his trademark device of wrapping familiar objects in cloth and other materials, giving them an artificial skin that simultaneously conceals, reveals, and transforms them. From 1958 on he worked with his wife and artistic partner, Jeanne-Claude (Jeanne-Claude Denat de Guillebon), 1935–2009, b. Casablanca, studied Univ. of Tunis (grad. 1952). The two met in Paris and moved to New York City in 1964. A leading figure in conceptual art, Christo, in collaboration with Jeanne-Claude, has specialized in large-scale temporary outdoor installations. Running Fence (1976), a shimmering fabric curtain, was strung more than 24 mi (39 km) across the rolling N California landscape. Other projects have included surrounding 11 islands in Florida's Biscayne Bay with floating hot-pink fabric (1983), wrapping the Pont Neuf in Paris (1985), concurrent installations of thousands of 20-ft (6-m) tall umbrellas—blue near Tokyo and yellow near Los Angeles (1991), and wrapping Berlin's Reichstag in silvery fabric (1995). On the paths and natural contours of New York City's Central Park the two created (2005) The Gates, a meandering installation of more than 7,500 rectangular, 16-ft-tall (5-m) gates, each hung, to about halfway down, with a saffron panel.

See dual biography by B. Chernow (2002); studies by D. Laporte (1986), J. Schellmann and J. Benecke (1988), M. Vaizey (1990), and J. Baal-Teshuva (1995); D. and A. Maysles, dir., documentary films: Christo's Valley Curtain (1974), Running Fence (1978), Islands (1986), Christo in Paris (1990), and Umbrellas (1995).

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