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Artists Christo
Christo Photo

Christo

Bulgarian-American Sculptor, Photographer, and Conceptual Artist

Movements and Styles: Nouveau Réalisme, Environmental Art

Born: June 13, 1935 - Gabrovo, Bulgaria

Christo Timeline

Quotes

"For me, the real world involves everything: risk, danger, beauty, energy."
Christo
"I am an artist, and I have to have courage... Do you know that I don't have any artworks that exist? They all go away when they're finished. Only the preparatory drawings, and collages are left, giving my works an almost legendary character. I think it takes much greater courage to create things to be one than to create things that will remain."
Christo
"If some of our works are symphonies, then wrapped walkways was chamber music."
Christo
"People think our work is monumental because it's art, but human beings do much bigger things: they build giant airports, highways for thousands of miles, much, much bigger than what we create."
Christo and Jeanne-Claude
"We borrow space and create gentle disturbances for a few days. We inherit everything that is inherent in the space to become part of the work of art. All our projects are like fabulous expeditions. The story of each project is unique. Our projects have no precedent. And so ... the hardest part of each project is to obtain the permits. Afterward, it's pleasure."
Christo and Jeanne-Claude

"The work of art is a scream of freedom."

Christo Signature

Synopsis

Christo's early education in Soviet Socialist Realism, and his experience fleeing his home as a refugee of political revolution, informed his career's numerous forays into real-world politics as a primary subject and source of his artmaking. His 35-year collaboration with the artist Jeanne-Claude, and the large-scale site-specific works they co-authored, stand out as his career's greatest achievements. Together, the duo created monumentally-scaled sculptures and installations which often utilized the technique of draping or wrapping large portions of existent landscapes, buildings, and industrial objects with specially engineered fabric. Christo and Jeanne-Claude made works that stand out as some of the most grandiose, ambitious, site-specific art works ever. While they often insisted that the aesthetic properties of their art constituted its primary value, reactions from audiences and critics worldwide have long recognized a broader commentary operating across their work, and themes ranging from environmental degradation, to the vexed history of the 20th century and the Cold War, to the perseverance of democratic and humanist ideals.

Key Ideas

Christo and Jeanne-Claude's interventions in the natural world and the built environment altered both the physical form and the visual experience of the sites, thereby allowing viewers to perceive and understand the locations with a new appreciation of their formal, energetic, and volumetric qualities.
The artists' choice to remain intermittently inside and outside the frameworks of legality lends much of their work a built-in aspect of dissent and resistance. It also expands upon and emboldens a long legacy of quasi-legality in art, where art exists in a realm somewhere between the "real" world and fantasy, and affords the art world with distinct privileges as well as restrictions.
Christo and Jeanne-Claude often worked outside the gallery system, refusing to negotiate sales of drawings and commissions through an art dealer. In this respect, they took a definitive stance on the political and economic infrastructure of the global art market, and set a precedent for artists working outside the system who still cultivated an international level of success.
Whereas Land Artists usually made a point of blurring the lines of distinction between the art work itself and its natural setting and/or materials, Christo and Jeanne-Claude's art relied on developing high contrast between the engineered, man-made elements and the site's organic characteristics. Their work therefore pushes the envelope of what constitutes site-specific, large-scale installation art, and expands the genre discourse to incorporate controversial themes of industrialization, bureaucratization, and late capitalism.

Biography

Christo Photo

Early Period

Christo was born in Gabrovo, Bulgaria, a small town in the Balkan Mountains. His given name was Christo Vladimirov Javacheff, and his parents were Ivan Vladimir Javacheff, a chemist and a businessman who ran a fabric factory, and Tzveta Dimitrova, a political activist and a secretary at the Academy of Fine Arts in Sofia, Bulgaria. Ivan and Tzveta were socially connected with artists and intellectuals around Gabrovo, and Christo grew up surrounded by progressive ideas and culture. Christo began creating art early on, inspired by his parents' bohemian social circle, and was encouraged by several professors from the Academy of Fine Arts who would frequent the family home's to visit his parents. Politics also shaped his early life, and as a young boy Christo witnessed his birth country's invasion by the Nazis, and later by the Soviets.

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Christo Biography Continues

Influences and Connections

Influences on Artist
Artists, Friends, Movements
Influenced by Artist
Artists, Friends, Movements
Christo
Interactive chart with Christo's main influences, and the people and ideas that the artist influenced in turn.
View Influences Chart

Artists

Marcel DuchampMarcel Duchamp
GiottoGiotto
Auguste RodinAuguste Rodin

Personal Contacts

Pierre RestanyPierre Restany
ArmanArman
Daniel SpoerriDaniel Spoerri
Jean TinguelyJean Tinguely
Yves KleinYves Klein

Movements

Nouveau RéalismeNouveau Réalisme
ConstructivismConstructivism
Land ArtLand Art
Environmental ArtEnvironmental Art

Influences on Artist
Christo
Christo
Years Worked: 1950s - Present
Influenced by Artist

Artists

Wolfgang VolzWolfgang Volz
Albert and David MayslesAlbert and David Maysles

Personal Contacts

Dorothy and Herbert VogelDorothy and Herbert Vogel

Movements

Land ArtLand Art
Public SculpturePublic Sculpture
Environmental ArtEnvironmental Art

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Cite this page

Content compiled and written by Laura Fiesel

Edited and revised, with Synopsis and Key Ideas added by Brynn Hatton

" Artist Overview and Analysis". [Internet]. . TheArtStory.org
Content compiled and written by Laura Fiesel
Edited and revised, with Synopsis and Key Ideas added by Brynn Hatton
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