a tale of a few cities

Jeanne-Claude R.I.P.

Posted in Art by petercombe on November 20, 2009

Artist Jeanne-Claude, who created the 2005 Central Park installation “The Gates” and other large scale “wrapping” projects around the globe with her husband Christo, has died. She was 74. Jeanne-Claude died the evening of November 18, 2009 at a New York hospital.

Jeanne Claude had a privileged upper-class upbringing, (her father, Lieutenant Colonel Jacques de Guillebon had within his circle General Charles de Gaulle) only to relinquish that lifestyle and blossom into a visually literate woman who drew energy from a network of European and American artists. Her parents did not support her marriage to Christo, nor their bohemien lifestyle. It is only later that her parents warmed to their art making. Her father was part of the team that worked on The Running Fence, Sanoma and Marin Counties, California, 1976. Jeanne Claude knew her father would prove invaluable in enlisting Paris Mayor Jacques Chirac’s support for The Pont Neuf Wrapped.

I remember while living in England, the frenzy caused by the wrapping of the Ponte Nouf in Paris. I loved the way both artists made large objects more accessible. They provided intimacy to large objects and sometimes – terrains. Their art was part of the Nouveaux Réalistes, a movement that in the US was sadly, overshadowed by the machine that was Pop-ism. Other artists that followed the Nouveau Réalisme Manifesto were Yves Klein, Arman, Martial Raysse, Pierre Restany,Daniel Spoerri, Jean Tinguely, César, Mimmo Rotella, and Niki de Saint Phalle.

Christo and Jeanne-Claude
Wall of Barrels, Iron Curtain,
Rue Visconti,Paris 1962

Photo: Jean-Dominique Lajoux,
©1962 Christo

It was “Wall of Barrels, Iron Curtain”, on the Rue Visconti in Paris, 1962 that provided the turning point in Christo’s career and cemented Jeanne Claude’s role as an integral part of the art making. Jeanne-Claude’s contribution became so important in later years that the couple decided to sign all future works with both their names.

It is a sad day indeed for the art world. I recommend the book and DVD provided in the links below. The former a captivating biographical read and the latter a brilliant 5 disc set documentary of a 30-year collaboration between acclaimed filmmakers Albert and David Maysles, and Christo and Jeanne-Claude.



Christo and JeanneClaude>


One Response

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  1. urdead2me said, on November 22, 2009 at 4:19 am

    RIP – Jeanne-Claude, 74, who shared a birthday w/ husband and partner, Christo. May she wrap heaven in shimmering fabrics.

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