Christo Javacheff studied at the Fine Arts Academy in Sofia (1953–56) before defecting to the West in 1957. That year, he spent one semester at the Akademie der Bildenden Künste in Vienna. He moved to Paris in 1958 and met Jeanne-Claude.Christo’s first artworks, dating from 1958, consist of appropriated everyday objects such as bottles, cans, furniture, and oil drums wrapped in canvas, bundled in twine, and occasionally overlaid with automobile paint. His first solo exhibition, at Galerie Haro Lauhus in Cologne in June 1961, included his inaugural collaboration with Jeanne-Claude and entitled Dockside Packages, a collection of draped oil barrels and rolls of industrial paper arranged outside the gallery along a dock.
The oil barrel ( Data ) is representative of this phase of research, strongly connected with the criticism for political and economic system. That same year, the couple made their first attempt of a monumental scale with Project for a Wrapped Public Building, in which they proposed shrouding an unspecified parliamentary edifice, symbol of public architecture, in fabric tied down with metal cables. Never realized, the project exists in the form of a photographic collage with an explanatory text by the artists. Throughout the 1960s, Christo and Jeanne-Claude outlined proposals for similar projects, often involving iconic buildings, like the École Militaire station of the Paris Métro (1961). Others monumental artwork are, in the ame period: Wrapped Fountain, Piazza Mercato, Spoleto, Italy, 1968; Wrapped Medieval Tower, Spoleto, Italy, 1968; and Wrapped Kunsthalle, Bern, Switzerland, 1968.
The following year, they cloaked both the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago and a mile-long section of the Australian coastline at Little Bay, north of Sydney. Covered with vast quantities of light-colored fabric, battened down using elaborate systems of cables, ropes, and knots, these architectural and natural forms were de-familiarized, transformed into ghostly presences that momentarily disrupted their surroundings. Beginning in 1970, the artists executed numerous other projects, all of which became icons of environmental art: Valley Curtain, Grand Hogback, Rifle, Colorado, 1970–72, a curtain of orange nylon suspended across a valley; Running Fence, Sonoma and Marin Counties, California, 1972–76, more than twenty-four miles of white nylon fabric snaking across the countryside; Surrounded Islands, Biscayne Bay, Greater Miami, Florida, 1980–83, around six and a half million square feet of bright pink fabric floating around eleven islands; The Pont Neuf Wrapped, Paris, 1975-85, honey-hued fabric shrouding the city’s oldest bridge; The Umbrellas, Japan-USA, 1984-91, a scattering of 3100 blue and yellow umbrellas in the valleys around Ibaraki prefecture, Japan, and Tejon Pass, California; Wrapped Reichstag, Berlin, 1971–95, the celebrated German government building swathed in silver fabric; and The Gates, Central Park, New York City, 1979–2005, more than 7500 metal frames fitted with saffron fabric panels and arranged along some twenty-three miles of walkway in Central Park. Major exhibitions of the artists’ work have been organized by the Institute of Contemporary Art in Boston (1979), Museum Ludwig in Cologne (1981), Hiroshima City Museum of Contemporary Art (1990), Martin-Gropius-Bau in Berlin (2001), and the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York (2004). Jeanne-Claude died in 2009; Christo lives and works in New York City.