Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Jeanne-Claude, Wife, Partner and Collaborator to Christo, Dies at 74

Jeanne-Claude, the extroverted red-head and the wife of environmental artist, Christo, died Wednesday from complications of a brain aneurysm. She was 74.

Born in Casablanca, Morocco to a French military family, Jeanne-Claude met Christo in October 1958 in Paris when he was commissioned to paint a portrait of her mother. They were married soon after.

Jeanne-Claude and Christo created numerous environmental art projects together. One of their most notable works is “The Gates” in New York City’s Central Park. Their work has been visually impressive, often-times controversial, and always ephemeral. “Do you know that I don’t have any artworks that exist? They all go away when they’re finished. Only the preparatory drawings and collages are left, giving my works an almost legendary character. I think it takes much greater courage to create things to be gone that to create things that will remain,” said Christo. But, they have repeatedly contended that their work never meant anything more than the immediate aesthetic. According to Jeanne-Claude, “Our art has absolutely no purpose, except to be a work of art. We do not give messages.”

A statement on the couple’s website explains that although Christo is deeply saddened by the passing of his wife, partner and collaborator, he is committed to honoring the promise they made to each other many years ago: The art of Christo and Jeanne-Claude will continue.

Christo is dedicated to completing their current works in progress: Over The River, Project for the Arkansas River, State of Colorado, and The Mastaba, Project for the United Arab Emirates, as Jeanne-Claude would wish.

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