Christo and Jeanne-Claudes greatest hits

The artist duo Christo (1935–2020) and Jeanne-Claude (1935–2009) created some of the most important, impactful and popular works of the 20th and early 21st century. Their ambitions new no bounds and the works, which were self funded, often took many years or even several decades of planning before they came to fruition. Here are some of their most memorable pieces.

Wall of Oil Barrels – The Iron Curtain (1962) Courtesy of the artist; Photo: Jean-Dominique Lajoux

Wall of Oil Barrels – The Iron Curtain (1961-62), Paris

In June 1962 Christo and Jeanne-Claude blocked off the Rue Visconti in Paris, the city where they met and lived at the time, with 89 used oil barrels. The work alluded to both the recently built Berlin Wall and the protests against the Algerian War, which also used barricades. “Coming from a communistic country as a political refugee I was eager to do my own iron curtain which blocked an entire street,” Christo told The Art Newspaper in 2018. The wall was in place for only eight hours, but it proved to be the first significant use of oil barrels in the artists work, which were later used on much larger scales in works such as The London Mastaba (2016-18).

Wrapped Coast, One Million Square Feet, Little Bay, Sydney, Australia (1968-69) Photo: Shunk-Kender

Wrapped Coast (1968-69), Sydney

You think you would need an army to wrap 2.4km of Australian coast in 92,900 sq. m of synthetic fabric. And in a way that was what Christo and Jeanne-Claude went for, recruiting a retired major from the Army Corps of Engineers to lead more than 100 workers, including 15 professional mountain climbers to lay and attached the fabric using 56km of polypropylene rope. The work, their biggest at the time, and one of the largest works of art ever made, remained in situ for ten weeks.

Surrounded Islands, Biscayne Bay, Greater Miami, Florida (1980-83) Photo: Wolfgang Volz

Surrounded Islands (1980-83), Biscayne Bay, Miami, Florida

If there is a colour that sums up the popular idea of 1980s Miami it has got to be neon pink. But Miami at the time was also a deprived and fractious city, with police brutality and race riots. Encircling the contours of 11 uninhabited islands in the Biscayne Bay, seemed like a mammoth task. Christo and Jeanne-Claude had to go to federal court to get permission for the work, which entailed surrounding the islands with 603,900 sq. m of bright pink polypropylene fabric. Each island was assigned a “captain” and more than 400 workers were recruited to install the piece. The islands were also referred to as the “beer can islands” at the time, Christo would later say, and the team had to remove 40 tons of rubbish including refrigerators, tires, mattresses and an abandoned boat. The installation took place the same year that the Center for the Fine Arts opened, which would later become the Pérez Art Museum Miami, whose director Franklin Sirmans said yesterday: “Making art out of fear… while Christo spoke of his own personal trauma as a refugee, his work for Miami was a healing machine meant to bring people together in the wake of #arthurmcduffie [McDuffie was killed at the hands of four policemen, who were acquitted leading to race riots] #marielboatlift [the mass immigration from Cuba] and capitalist violence 1980-1983.”

The Pont Neuf Wrapped, Paris (1975-85) Photo: Wolfgang Volz

The Pont Neuf Wrapped (1975-1985), Paris

In September 1985, 300 workers wrapped the Pont Neuf bridge in central Paris with 41,800 sq. m of sandstone-coloured polyamide fabric using 13km of rope and 12 tons of steel chain. Christo saw his and Jeanne-Claudes wrapped works very much as sculptures in the classical sense, one time comparing them to Auguste Rodins famous sculpture of Honoré de Balzac, adding that “like classical sculpture, all our wrapped projects are not solid buildings; they are moving with the wind, they are breathing. The fabric is very sensual and inviting; its like a skin.”

Wrapped Reichstag, Berlin (1971-95) Photo: Wolfgang Volz

Wrapped Reichstag (1971-1995), Berlin

This is perhaps the work that thrust Christo and Jeanne-Claude into the public consciousness, a feat that still seems incredibly audacious todayRead More – Source