I fear he may be like a man with no arms now–they were such an amazing team. Although this gives me hope: “Whether executed in oil drum or brightly colored fabric, the art of her and her husband, Jeanne-Claude said, expressed “ the quality of love and tenderness that we human beings have for what does not last.”
Jeanne-Claude, Artist who, with Christo, wrapped objects large and small, is dead at 74
By WILLIAM GRIMESSuzanne DeChillo/The New York Times Jeanne-Claude, with Christo and Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg at the opening of “The Gates” in February, 2005
Update | 12:59 p.m. Jeanne-Claude, who collaborated with her husband, Christo, on dozens of environmental arts projects, notably the wrapping of the Pont Neuf in Paris and the Reichstag in Berlin, and the installation of 7,503 vinyl gates with saffron-colored nylon panels in Central Park, died on Wednesday in Manhattan, where she lived. She was 74.
The cause was complications of a brain aneurysm, her family told The Associated Press.
Jeanne-Claude met her husband, Christo Javacheff, in Paris in 1958. At the time, Christo, a Bulgarian refugee, was already wrapping small objects. Three years later, they collaborated on their first work, a temporary installation on the Cologne docks that consisted of oil drums and rolls of industrial paper wrapped in tarpaulin.
To avoid confusing dealers and the public, and to establish an artistic brand, they used only Christo’s name. In 1994 they retroactively applied the joint name “Christo and Jeanne-Claude” to all outdoor works and large-scale temporary indoor installations. Indoor work was credited to Christo alone.
Their working methods, as described on their Web site, remained constant throughout the years. After jointly conceiving of a project, Christo made drawings, scale models and other preparatory works whose sale financed the project. Working with paid assistants, they did the on-site work: wrapping buildings, trees, walls or bridges; erecting umbrellas (“The Umbrellas,” 1984-91); spreading pink fabric around islands in Biscayne Bay near Miami (“Surrounded Islands,” 1980-83).
“We want to create works of art of joy and beauty, which we will build because we believe it will be beautiful,’ Jeanne-Claude said in a 2002 interview. “The only way to see it is to build it. Like every artist, every true artist, we create them for us.”
Jeanne-Claude Denat de Guillebon was born in Casablanca, Morocco, on June 13, 1935. Her father served in the French military. After attending schools in France and Switzerland, she earned a baccalaurate in Latin and philosophy from the University of Tunis in 1952.
In addition to her husband, she is survived by their son, Cyril Christo.
After working with stacked oil barrels, Jeanne-Claude and Christo moved to New York in 1964 and embarked on ever more daring projects, grander in scale and more theatrical in conception. Seemingly, there was nothing too large to be wrapped. In the late 1960s, they wrapped the Kunsthalle in Bern, Germany, one of many buildings to come. At the Documenta exhibition in Kassel, Germany, in 1968, they erected, with the assistance of two giant cranes, an inflated cylindrical fabric “package,” in appearance a bit like a stretched-out Michelin Man, that stood nearly 280 feet tall.
The collaborations became communal events, during construction and after. Enormous numbers of viewers were attracted to “The Umbrellas,” installed simultaneously in Ibaraki, Japan, and at the Tejon Ranch in Southern California in 1991. “The Gates,” a series of flapping banner-like panels installed in Central Park in 2005, also attracted big crowds during the two weeks that the work lasted, with each visitor handed a small sample of the saffron fabric.
At her death, Jeanne-Claude and Christo were at work on two projects: “Over the River,” a series of fabric panels to be suspended over the Arkansas River in Colorado, and “The Mastaba,” a stack of 410,000 oil barrels configured as a mastaba, or rectangle with outward-sloping sides, envisioned for the United Arab Emirates.
Like all their projects, these are intended to be temporary, a quality at the heart of the artistic enterprise. Whether executed in oil drum or brightly colored fabric, the art of her and her husband, Jeanne-Claude said, expressed “ the quality of love and tenderness that we human beings have for what does not last.”