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, obscuring, or otherwise altering familiar objects or landscapes with cloth and other materials, and thus simultaneously concealing, revealing, and transforming 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 and a team of helpers, 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 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. The Floating Piers (2016), a saffron walkway across Italy's Lake Iseo to its main island and an islet, was Christo's first major project after Jeanne-Claude's death.

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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