Christo Vladimirov Javacheff and Jeanne-Claude were a married couple that created large works of art in different environments. Their works became part of the environments themselves with the intention that spaces could be seen with new perspectives and consciousness. Artistic credit was only given to Christo for their large instillations up until 1994 when their works began being credited to “Christo and Jeanne-Claude.”
Both artists were born on the same day in 1935, Christo in Gabrovo, Bulgaria and Jeanne-Claude in Casablanca, Morocco. Christo studied art at the Sofia Academy from 1953-1956 and lived in both Prague and Austria in the late 1950s. He later studied at the Vienna Academy of Fine Arts and moved to Paris in 1958, where he met Jeanne- Claude when he was commissioned to paint a portrait of her mother. Jeanne-Claude graduated with a baccalauréat in Latin and philosophy from the University of Tunis in 1952. She received no formal art education during her lifetime and claims that she became an artist out of her love for Christo. During their projects, it was her responsibility to oversee work crews and raise funds.
In the 1960s, the couple began collaborating on their installations. In 1962, they covered barrels at the port of Cologne and, the following year, they blocked off Rue Visconti in Paris with a wall of oil barrels as a protest against the Berlin Wall. In addition to their barrel works, other major works include Wrapped Trees (1966-1998), The Gates (1971-2005), Wrapped Reichstag (1971-1995), The Pont Neuf Wrapped (1975-1985), Running Fence (1972-1976) and many more.
Although their work was often considered controversial due to their colossal sizes and invasiveness on the environment, the artists maintained that the purpose of their artwork was merely to bring joy and beauty and to create new ways of seeing familiar landscapes.
Jean-Claude passed away in 2009 and Christo continues to produce artwork in New York.