Christo was his name, the packaging was his game

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Mountains. Iconic bridges. Public buildings and historical monuments. floating jetties. Islands and coasts. These are just a few of the massive environmental structures and natural spaces of the late Bulgarian-born conceptual artist Christo Vladimirov Javacheff, known worldwide simply as Christo, wrapped or scalloped in fabric to create wonders of the world. colossal, breathtaking and temporary worlds.

Never without controversy and resistance, Christo’s epic projects – all designed to be short-lived – were no small feat to achieve. Bringing his visions to life often took decades, requiring the cooperation and collaboration of countless landowners, government agencies, judges, environmental organizations, local citizens, architects, engineers and laborers – many of whom had a timid interest in them at best. extravagant art installations of an enigmatic man with a name whose creative fetish could wreak havoc in their surroundings.

Nonetheless, Christo persisted. And with his wife and co-artist, Jeanne-Claude, (who also only used her first name) by his side throughout, over and over, Christo prevailed.

Once the vision in his mind was executed on paper, Christo enjoyed the process of lobbying and rallying for his cause, telling the New York Times in 1972: “For me, aesthetics are all that is involved. the process – the workers, the politics, the negotiations, the difficulty of building, dealing with hundreds of people. The whole process becomes aesthetic – that’s what interests me, discovering the process. I enter into dialogue with other people.

Here are six of Christo’s most iconic installations:

1. “The Arc de Triomphe, Wrapped”, Paris, 2021

Christo’s “dialogue” is currently continuing posthumously with the completion of the Arc de Triomphe in Paris. Designed in 1961, the exhibit is on view for 16 days from September 18 to October 3, 2021. The Arc is wrapped in 26,909 square feet (25,000 square meters) of recyclable polypropylene fabric in silver blue, and 9,842 feet ( 3000 meters) of red rope.

2. “The floating jetties”, Lake Iseo, Italy, 2016

From June 18 to July 3, 2016, visitors to Lake Iseo in Italy could almost literally walk on water thanks to “The Floating Piers”. The installation consisted of nearly 3 kilometers of shimmering yellow fabric, carried by a modular dock system made up of 220,000 cubes of high density polyethylene floating on the surface of the water.

3. “The Gates”, Central Park, New York, 2005

“The Gates” in New York’s Central Park was completed in February 2005. Comprised of 7,503 doors adorned with saffron-colored hanging panels, the installation was reminiscent of a sparkling tributary that forced its way through bare tree branches .

4. “Enveloped Reichstag”, Berlin, 1995

After a three-decade wrestling match, the Reichstag was finally packed in June 1995. For two weeks, the 19th-century building that houses the lower house of the German parliament was covered in a metallic silver cloth tightened by blue ropes which emphasized the contours of the formidable edifice.

5. “Umbrellas”, California and Japan, 1991

An installation performed simultaneously in the United States and Japan, “The Umbrellas” reflected the differences and similarities in land use and way of life in two inland valleys on separate continents. Christo and Jeanne-Claude raised 3,100 yellow and blue umbrellas in California and Japan respectively. The installation project cost $ 26 million and attracted some 3 million visitors.

6. “Le Pont Neuf enveloped”, Paris, 1985

For this 1985 environmental project, Christo and Jeanne-Claude wrapped Paris’ oldest bridge, the Pont Neuf, in 450,000 square feet (41,806 square meters) of a warm amber-colored woven polyamide fabric. Ephemeral and ephemeral, like all of Christo’s works, the installation lasted only 14 days and today only exists in photographs.


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