On June 13, 1935, the two people who would become the internationally-renowned artist duo Christo and Jeanne-Claude were born on separate continents: Christo Javacheff in Bulgaria, Jeanne-Claude Denat de Guillebon in Morocco. They met in Paris in 1958 and began a lifelong partnership in life and art. The pair are known for their massive-scale environmental projects, like hanging huge curtains across the hills of California, outfitting a group of islands in pink skirts, and wrapping entire buildings and monuments in fabric. Jeanne-Claude sadly passed away in 2009, but Christo continues to realize projects that they conceived together, and this week celebrates his 79th birthday.
Christo and Jeanne-Claude have long held that their works are purely aesthetic engagements, claiming no political, social, environmental, or conceptual meaning behind their projects. However, the monumental scale, global expanse, and unconventional methodologies have lent to deeper interpretations. The tactics of wrapping and covering in particular can have a range of lexical significance and symbolic effects, connoting charged concepts like concealment, enclosure, protection, renovation, and obsolescence, to name a few. Before and since Christo and Jeanne-Claude's monumental projects, other artists have used wrapping and covering as a technique and motif for numerous reasons, conveying a variety of artistic purposes, political and cultural meanings, and some purely aesthetic experiences as well.
In honor of Christo and Jeanne-Claude's shared birthday this week, check out That's a Wrap: The Best Wrapped, Covered, and Veiled Artworks.