Even when life ends, art remains.” Christo Vladimirov Javacheff best known as an environmental sculptor died of natural causes on May 31, 2020, but the work he began with his late wife Jeanne-Claude picks up the threads.
The artist wasn’t interested in the lifeless white walls of the modern museum where objects exist apart from everyday life taught us the world is an art gallery turning everyday life into art to make people look again and think about their surroundings. He did this by way of intervention – either by wrapping a building such as the Reich stag in Berlin in blue material, or a section of the Australian coastline in one million square feet of fabric – in both cases turning cold, hard structures into sensuous, fragile sculptures.
Landscapes transformed … Christo’s pathways across Lake Iseo, Italy. Photograph: Marco Bertorello/AFP/Getty Images
He changed cityscapes, landscapes, buildings, coastlines, lakes and islands, making us look afresh at our surroundings. At its most brave and striking, Christo’s work entered the collective mindfulness, reversing our sense of scale and place in the world. At its best, his work was disruptive and transformative, leaving surprise and wonder in its wake.
His art is always somewhere else, alive in our imagination, and filled with associations, some yet to be executed.
What we are celebrating today, the story of art and love of Christo and Jeanne-Claude has nothing “easy”, but of extraordinary memories that has filled dozens of books, pages and minds.