This week for my Artsy-Fartsy post, I wanted to spotlight the cutest artist-couple known to mankind: Jeanne Claude and Christo.
Christo, as many of you may know, is famous for wrapping things, but he doesn’t limit himself to wrapping a barbie for his niece or a necklace for Jeanne Claude. No. when he wraps things…they are large…like the Reichstag (German Parliament building…)
It might seem inconvenient to wrap a building (how does one get in and out?), BUT Christo’s process is rather amazing. He draws sketches, endless sketches to plan for each event that he creates. Once it has been carefully planned, he approaches the government–this is where Jeanne Claude comes in. You see, Christo was a mere Bulgarian refugee, painting portraits of rich Parisian women (Jeanne Claude’s mother). He was just a starving artist until he made this piece in Paris using oil barrels (without government permission of course).
He wanted to divide Paris the way that Europe had been divided under the Iron curtain (something he had felt personally in his life in Bulgaria). As Jeanne Claude and Christo started dating, he found that he wanted to wrap more things, but it was Jeanne Claude’s connections that made them possible. The wrapping of the Reichstag was stuck in political machinery for decades before Christo finally received approval.
His biggest criticism? “Why is my government spending all this money just to wrap a building?” –This is what was so cool about his work. He paid for the entire installation (often lasting two weeks or so) through selling his sketches (remember the ones I mentioned before?).
One time, Christ convinced Kansas City that they should let him wrap the walkways in the public park. He hired locals to set everything up (as in wrap the walkways). While this was touching, it was also effective. People started talking about it, then people went to the park more–just to check out the new walkways.
What I like so much is you didn’t have to know ANYTHING to enjoy it. The Kansas City-ers were just talking about the color, the sound, the feel, and the experience of walking on this bright nylon carpet. Christo’s works foster an attentiveness to the things we always took for granted. Suddenly, seeing them wrapped, you can see their shape better, or you can see the way that the light makes shadows against the edges. Christo just teaches us attentiveness, so we can really cherish and appreciate the spaces we already love :)