Christo & Jeanne-Claude – The Wall Project, 13.000 Oil Barrels, for The Gasometer of Oberhausen (Germany, 1998-1999)
Christo Vladimirov Javacheff (born 1935 in Gabrovo, Bulgaria) is most well-known for his collaborations with his wife, Jeanne-Claude (born 1935 in Casablanca, Morocco; died 2009 in New York, USA) under the moniker Christo & Jeanne-Claude. Together, the couple produced larger-than-life environmental installations that disturb and alter the appearance of the immediate environment. They are most iconic for their wrapping projects in which they wrap their subjects in monochrome silken-fabrics to reduce them to their simplest aesthetic form—shape and color.
Christo fled from Czechoslovakia as a refugee of political revolution in 1956. Such experiences of imprisonment and lack of artistic liberty have profoundly impacted his later career and approach to being an artist. Christo has always remained outside the gallery system, preferring to be completely free of representation and dealers. This affords him a great amount of freedom in his endeavours but also means that he must fund all of his projects through the sale of his prints and drawings.
Although the bulk of Christo’s oeuvre are made up of small 2-dimensional works—preparatory drawings, sketches, models and studies—his true passion lies in the planning and execution of monumental works. The organization of each project was also done in equal collaboration with Jeanne-Claude. Islands, coastlines, streets, landmarks, and national monuments have all been wrapped by Christo.
Often controversial as a result of their scale, the artist & Jeanne-Claude made headlines at documenta 4 by erecting the largest inflatable structure (85m tall) to have ever been shown without a skeleton support. Their other projects include: the Wrapped Reichstag in Berlin, 1995 178 Wrapped Treesin Berower Park in Basel, 1998 the Wrapped Pont Neuf in Paris, 1985 and The Gates in New York’s Central Park, where over 7500 fabric gates were constructed, leading visitors along a carefully thought-out pathway.