Remarkable People

Big, bold and beautiful: The incredible art of Christo and Jeanne-Claude

Big, bold and beautiful: The i...
Valley Curtain in Rifle, Colorado, was completed in 1972. The artwork consisted of a 200,200-sq-ft (18,600-sq-m) orange curtain made from woven nylon fabric. It was installed between two Colorado mountain slopes but only stood for 28 hours as high winds made it necessary to remove it
Valley Curtain in Rifle, Colorado, was completed in 1972. The artwork consisted of a 200,200-sq-ft (18,600-sq-m) orange curtain made from woven nylon fabric. It was installed between two Colorado mountain slopes but only stood for 28 hours as high winds made it necessary to remove it
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Running Fence in Sonoma and Marin Counties, California, was completed in 1976. It consisted of 24.5 miles (39.4 km) of heavy woven white nylon fabric, hung from a steel cable strung between 2,050 steel poles extending from east to west in a rural area north of San Francisco
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Running Fence in Sonoma and Marin Counties, California, was completed in 1976. It consisted of 24.5 miles (39.4 km) of heavy woven white nylon fabric, hung from a steel cable strung between 2,050 steel poles extending from east to west in a rural area north of San Francisco
Surrounded Islands in Biscayne Bay, Greater Miami, Florida, was completed in 1983. A total of 11 islands were surrounded with floating pink woven polypropylene fabric measuring 6.5 million sq ft (603,870 sq m). The fabric covered the surface of the water and extended 200 ft (61 m)
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Surrounded Islands in Biscayne Bay, Greater Miami, Florida, was completed in 1983. A total of 11 islands were surrounded with floating pink woven polypropylene fabric measuring 6.5 million sq ft (603,870 sq m). The fabric covered the surface of the water and extended 200 ft (61 m)
The Floating Piers in Lake Iseo, Italy, was completed in 2016. It consisted of a 3 km (1.9 mile) floating walkway that allowed visitors to walk over the water to an island named Monte Isola. A total of 100,000 sq m (1 million sq ft) of shimmering yellow fabric was supported by a modular floating dock system of 220,000 polyethylene cubes
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The Floating Piers in Lake Iseo, Italy, was completed in 2016. It consisted of a 3 km (1.9 mile) floating walkway that allowed visitors to walk over the water to an island named Monte Isola. A total of 100,000 sq m (1 million sq ft) of shimmering yellow fabric was supported by a modular floating dock system of 220,000 polyethylene cubes
The Gates in Central Park, New York City, was completed in 2005. A total of 7,503 gates holding saffron-colored fabric panels were conceived as a golden river appearing and disappearing through the bare branches of the trees in the park. Some 60 miles (96.5 km) of vinyl was used and the work required a team of 600 people
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The Gates in Central Park, New York City, was completed in 2005. A total of 7,503 gates holding saffron-colored fabric panels were conceived as a golden river appearing and disappearing through the bare branches of the trees in the park. Some 60 miles (96.5 km) of vinyl was used and the work required a team of 600 people
Not all of Christo and Jeanne-Claude's works were focused on fabric and wrapping things. The London Mastaba was a temporary sculpture in London's Hyde Park that consisted of oil barrels floating on a platform in the Serpentine Lake in 2018. In all, 7,506 horizontally stacked barrels were used
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Not all of Christo and Jeanne-Claude's works were focused on fabric and wrapping things. The London Mastaba was a temporary sculpture in London's Hyde Park that consisted of oil barrels floating on a platform in the Serpentine Lake in 2018. In all, 7,506 horizontally stacked barrels were used
The Pont Neuf Wrapped, Paris, 1975-85
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The Pont Neuf Wrapped in Paris was completed in 1985 and covered the city's oldest bridge in 450,000 sq ft (41,800 sq m) of woven polyamide fabric. The fabric was held in place by by 8 miles (13 km) of rope and 12.1 tons of steel chains
The Umbrellas was completed in 1991 in Japan and the USA. Manufacturers in Japan, USA, Germany and Canada prepared the fabric, steel frame bases, anchors, wooden base supports, bags and more. All 3,100 umbrellas were assembled in Bakersfield, California, from where 1,340 blue umbrellas were shipped to Japan, which are pictured. Tragically, a Japanese worker died while dismantling it
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The Umbrellas was completed in 1991 in Japan and the USA. Manufacturers in Japan, USA, Germany and Canada prepared the fabric, steel frame bases, anchors, wooden base supports, bags and more. All 3,100 umbrellas were assembled in Bakersfield, California, from where 1,340 blue umbrellas were shipped to Japan, which are pictured. Tragically, a Japanese worker died while dismantling it
The Umbrellas' yellow umbrellas are shown installed north of Los Angeles, California. The US umbrellas were also marked by tragedy and a woman was crushed to death while viewing the artwork in high winds
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The Umbrellas' yellow umbrellas are shown installed north of Los Angeles, California. The US umbrellas were also marked by tragedy and a woman was crushed to death while viewing the artwork in high winds
Valley Curtain in Rifle, Colorado, was completed in 1972. The artwork consisted of a 200,200-sq-ft (18,600-sq-m) orange curtain made from woven nylon fabric. It was installed between two Colorado mountain slopes but only stood for 28 hours as high winds made it necessary to remove it
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Valley Curtain in Rifle, Colorado, was completed in 1972. The artwork consisted of a 200,200-sq-ft (18,600-sq-m) orange curtain made from woven nylon fabric. It was installed between two Colorado mountain slopes but only stood for 28 hours as high winds made it necessary to remove it
Wrapped Coast, One Million Square Feet in Little Bay, Sydney, Australia, was completed in 1969. It consisted of 1 million sq ft (92,900 sq m) of erosion-control fabric typically manufactured for agricultural purposes. 35 miles (56.3 km) of polypropylene rope and 25,000 fasteners were used to hold it in place on the cliffside rock
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Wrapped Coast, One Million Square Feet in Little Bay, Sydney, Australia, was completed in 1969. It consisted of 1 million sq ft (92,900 sq m) of erosion-control fabric typically manufactured for agricultural purposes. 35 miles (56.3 km) of polypropylene rope and 25,000 fasteners were used to hold it in place on the cliffside rock
Wrapped Reichstag in Berlin, Germany, was completed in 1995 . The job took decades of negotiation with the authorities and consisted of 1,076,390 sq ft (100,000 sq m) of thick woven polypropylene fabric with an aluminum surface and 9.7 miles (15.6 km) of blue polypropylene rope, plus 70 large fabric panels
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Wrapped Reichstag in Berlin, Germany, was completed in 1995 . The job took decades of negotiation with the authorities and consisted of 1,076,390 sq ft (100,000 sq m) of thick woven polypropylene fabric with an aluminum surface and 9.7 miles (15.6 km) of blue polypropylene rope, plus 70 large fabric panels
View gallery - 11 images

The artist Christo recently passed away at the age of 84. For decades, he and his wife Jeanne-Claude, who died in 2009, made headlines with their striking and provocative artworks, such as wrapping Germany's Reichstag building in fabric and installing a giant orange curtain between two mountain slopes in Colorado.

Christo was born in 1935, in Bulgaria. After traveling throughout Europe, he arrived at a small studio in Paris in 1958 and found some discarded empty paint cans. Inspired, he wrapped one in canvas and left another uncovered. Though he and Jeanne-Claude certainly explored many other materials and ideas, such as stacking oil barrels, this initial idea of wrapping objects would come to define his career.

Controversial and ambitious, he was often reluctant to expound on his art, telling the Guardian "I have no reason to justify myself as an artist. I cannot explain my art. Everything I do professionally is irrational and useless. I make things that have no function – except maybe to make pleasure."

He was firmly against sponsorship, independently funded even his most ambitious artworks, and ensured they could be visited free-of-charge. Once they ran their course, the works were duly dismantled and recycled.

Wrapped Reichstag in Berlin, Germany, was completed in 1995 . The job took decades of negotiation with the authorities and consisted of 1,076,390 sq ft (100,000 sq m) of thick woven polypropylene fabric with an aluminum surface and 9.7 miles (15.6 km) of blue polypropylene rope, plus 70 large fabric panels
Wrapped Reichstag in Berlin, Germany, was completed in 1995 . The job took decades of negotiation with the authorities and consisted of 1,076,390 sq ft (100,000 sq m) of thick woven polypropylene fabric with an aluminum surface and 9.7 miles (15.6 km) of blue polypropylene rope, plus 70 large fabric panels

The wrapping of Berlin's Reichstag is perhaps Christo and Jeanne-Claude's most famous achievement. After trying to get permission to wrap the historic home of German democracy throughout the 1970s and 1980s, the pair finally succeeded in 1995. A team of 90 climbers and 120 workers covered the building in aluminum-lined polypropylene fabric measuring 1,076,390 sq ft (100,000 sq m). Additionally, 70 large fabric panels were used and a total of 9.7 miles (15.6 km) of blue polypropylene rope helped secure it all in place. After two weeks, the work was dismantled.

Wrapped Coast, One Million Square Feet in Little Bay, Sydney, Australia, was completed in 1969. It consisted of 1 million sq ft (92,900 sq m) of erosion-control fabric typically manufactured for agricultural purposes. 35 miles (56.3 km) of polypropylene rope and 25,000 fasteners were used to hold it in place on the cliffside rock
Wrapped Coast, One Million Square Feet in Little Bay, Sydney, Australia, was completed in 1969. It consisted of 1 million sq ft (92,900 sq m) of erosion-control fabric typically manufactured for agricultural purposes. 35 miles (56.3 km) of polypropylene rope and 25,000 fasteners were used to hold it in place on the cliffside rock

Another notable work of wrapping involved covering a 1.5 mile (241 km) stretch of coastline in Sydney, Australia. It consisted of 1 million sq ft (92,900 sq m) of agricultural erosion-control fabric. 35 miles (56.3 km) of polypropylene rope and 25,000 fasteners, threaded studs and clips were used to secure it to the cliffside rock. The job took a team of climbers and workers four weeks. The coast remained covered for 10 weeks then efforts were made to return the site to its original condition.

Though Christo and Jeanne-Claude have now both died, their work will continue on for a little while longer. A previously commissioned artwork named L'Arc de Triomphe, Wrapped is still planned for the Paris monument in 2021, for example.

"Christo lived his life to the fullest, not only dreaming up what seemed impossible but realizing it," says a statement from his office. "Christo and Jeanne-Claude's artwork brought people together in shared experiences across the globe, and their work lives on in our hearts and memories."

Head to the gallery to see a selection of Christo and Jeanne-Claude's art.

Source: Christo and Jeanne-Claude

View gallery - 11 images
4 comments
Graeme S
what a waste of time and materials
Funkgroover
I know that some arty-farty people will love this work and blabber on about how it represents the soul escaping from captivity or such like but in a world of limited resources, what a massive and public waste!
jgb
Where are all the hypocritical greenies? All that plastic pollution and no protestors.
ReservoirPup
I think it was completely OK back then 'cause we look at the art from the today's perspective. It wouldn't look as good if it were made today