Christo is a sculptor known for co-creating large scale ephemeral works worldwide with his longtime artistic partner and wife, Jeanne-Claude (1935-2009). Over the span of his 60-year career, Christo and Jeanne-Claude have created many public works involving the exterior wrapping of buildings, museums, and public spaces in canvas, tarp, and other materials. Oil barrels have also featured prominently in the couple’s work, selected for their “sculptural effect and low cost.” Their most recent US project, The Gates (completed in 2005) featured 7,503 rectangular arches draped in saffron fabric across New York City’s Central Park.
While many speculate on the specific meaning of Christo and Jeanne-Claude’s work, throughout their career, the artists have shunned the idea that their creative work seeks to convey deeper meanings, insisting that they create work to evoke a purely visceral emotional response using visual aesthetic. However, Christo speaks of the public locations of their installations in decidedly democratic terms.
“Nobody can buy our projects,” he says. “Nobody can sell tickets to experience our projects. Freedom is the enemy of possession and possession is equal to permanence. That is why our projects cannot remain and must go away forever. Our projects are ‘once in a lifetime’ and ‘once upon a time.’”
Christo appears in conjunction with the UMMA exhibition Victors for Art: Michigan's Alumni Collectors—Part II: Abstraction (on view through October 29, 2017) which includes one of Christo’s drawings related to The Gates project.
This program is presented in partnership with the Penny Stamps Distinguished Speaker Series with additional support from the Weiser Center for Europe and Eurasia.