Christo, Bulgarian-born artist who wrapped world’s landmarks, dies at 84

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AP Photo/Brennan Linsley

Christo, a Bulgarian-born artist known for his short-lived environmental and monumental artworks, has died at the age of 84.

The artist passed away of natural causes at his home in New York on Sunday, a statement on his official Facebook page stated.

“Christo lived his life to the fullest, not only in dreaming up what seemed impossible but realising it,” the statement from his office said.

STATEMENT ON CHRISTO May 31, 2020 Artist Christo Vladimirov Javacheff, known as Christo, passed away of natural causes…

Publiée par Christo and Jeanne-Claude Official sur Dimanche 31 mai 2020

Christo, real name Christo Vladimirov Javacheff, was born in Gabrovo, Bulgaria in 1935. He left his native country in his early twenties and spent a year travelling through Prague, Vienna, Geneva, and Paris where he met his wife and artistic partner, Jeanne-Claude Denat de Guillebon.

Together, the couple created monumental and ephemeral artworks which often involved wrapping landmarks or large structures in fabric.

Their 1968 “Wrapped Coast” project — for which the couple cloaked about two-and-a-half kilometres of cliffs in little Bay, Australia, in fabric — remains the largest single artwork ever made.

Their other famous works include wrapping The Pont Neuf in Paris, the Reichstag in Berlin, the Kunsthalle in Bern, a Roman wall in Italy.

Christo, Bulgarian-born artist who wrapped world's landmarks, dies at 84

June 22, 1995: a man on remains of the Berlin Wall looks at “Wrapped Reichstag” by Christo and Jeanne-Claude.AP Photo/Jan Bauer

They also installed more than 7,500 saffron-coloured vinyl gates in New York’s Central Park and erected 1,340 blue umbrellas in Japan and 1,760 blue umbrellas in Southern California in 1991 as part of the $26 million Umbrellas project.

The pair settled in New York in 1964 would stay there for the rest of their lives. Jeanne-Claude passed away in 2009 at the age of 74 from complications of a brain aneurysm. After her death, Christo said she was argumentative and very critical and always asking questions and he missed all of that very much.

“Christo and Jeanne-Claude’s artwork brought people together in shared experiences across the globe and their work lives on in our hearts and memories,” the Facebook statement added.

It also said that the couple has “always made clear that their artworks in progress be continued after their deaths” and that the ongoing “L’Arc de Triomphe, Wrapped’ project in Paris, France, is therefore still on track for September 2021.

The two artists made a point of paying for all of their works on their own and did not accept scholarship or donations. Instead, they sold preparatory drawings, collages, scale models and original lithographs to earn enough to finance their dreams.

“I like to be absolutely free, to be totally irrational with no justification for what I like to do,” he said. “I will not give up one centimetre of my freedom for anything.”

Christo, Bulgarian-born artist who wrapped world's landmarks, dies at 84

Environmental art titled “Surrounded Islands” by artist Christo being installed in Miami, US, on May 1983.AP Photo/Kathy Willens
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