Christo and Jeanne-Claude met in Paris in 1958, not long after their education at the National Academy of Art in Bulgaria and the University of Tunis, respectively. Their first project was Stacked Oil Barrels and Dockside Packages (1961) in Cologne Harbor, but perhaps their most renowned project was Wrapped Reichstag (1995) in Berlin, which swathed the iconic capital building in fabric for fourteen days.
Christo and Jeanne-Claude’s overt, site-specific landscape interventions have evolved from Christo’s early works. Smaller sculptural pieces that are key to his portfolio, such as wrapped cans, bottles, crates, suggestive forms, and indoor installations reveal an interest in concealment, but also in the dimensional qualities of shapes in an environment and in the process itself. It is no surprise that in a caption to a chronological list of projects on their website, the artists refer to “software” and “hardware” periods: preparation and imagination on the one hand, physical execution on the other. The Floating Piers, Christo and Jeanne-Claude’s most recent finished work, was conceived in 1970 yet came to fruition only in the summer of 2016. The 16-meter-wide shimmering walkways of this project, constructed on Lake Iseo, Italy, were open and free for the public to traverse. Christo will discuss this work in his lecture, along with two upcoming projects: Over the River, for the Arkansas River in Colorado, and The Mastaba, for the United Arab Emirates. Both were planned with his wife and partner Jeanne-Claude. Notwithstanding her death in 2009, Christo continues to fundamentally credit Jeanne-Claude in his projects.