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Art Watch : Christo & Jeanne Claude

The artistic duo Christo & Jeanne Claude are our Art Watch Artist for today. This section is brought to you by Art From Us and Divvya Nirula. The Artists we spotlight here can be from any field, across nay discipline, and using a variety of media. We share here why we think they are important and worth watching. Be it genius creators of eras gone by or the upcoming contemporary artist who is yet to have their first show. All come under the purview of Art Watch.

The most celebrated figures in the land-art movement, their outdoor works and large indoor installations have awed audiences and cities across the globe. Considered to be masters of their craft – they bring a sensibility that is subtle and nuanced to a movement that has always been about the hard gesture. Their works are gentle overtakings, symbiotic rather than parasitic in nature.

Christo Javacheff was from Bulgaria. And his wife, Jeanne-Claude de Guillebon from Casablanca, Morocco. They were both environmental sculptors noted for their controversial outdoor sculptures that often involved monumental displays of fabrics and plastics.

Christo, gained fame as a conceptual artist who turned to epic-scale environmental works during the late 1960s. He was known for stringing a giant curtain across a mountain pass in Colorado. Wrapping the Pont Neuf in Paris and the Reichstag in Berlin. And zigzagging thousands of saffron-curtained gates throughout Central Park.

Why Christo & Jeanne-Claude?

Christo, as he liked to be known, was called an artistic Pied Piper. Owing to the grand scale of his works, which took decades in the project stage, (and all of them temporary). They needed the cooperation of dozens, sometimes hundreds, of landowners, government officials, judges, environmental groups, local residents, engineers and workers. Visually impressive, and controversial, their work was typically looming, taking decades of careful preparation. The execution needed technical solutions, political negotiation, permitting and environmental approvals, hearings and public persuasion. Notably, the pair refused grants, scholarships, donations or public money. Instead financing works via the sale of their own art.

This was a labour of love for him and his wife no doubt. But the many whom he involved, had little interest in art and a deep reluctance to see their lives and their surroundings disrupted by an eccentric visionary speaking in only semi-comprehensible English.

Yet Christo prevailed. He belived in his vision and with persistence, charm and a childlike belief that eventually everyone would see things the way he did.

Jeanne-Claude, stood by her husband, in all his endeavours.

To many, the method was mad and the endeavour was completely mad. But for this pair, Christo and Jeanne-Claude, they believed that myriad elements that brought the projects to fruition, were integral to the artwork itself. And that their projects contained no deeper meaning than their immediate aesthetic impact.

Difficult to believe in times of cynicism, but their purpose was simply to give joy, beauty, and present a new ways of seeing the familiar.


For more Artists handpicked by Divvya Nirula – explore the ART WATCH archive.

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