The Bigger than Life Artist
Bulgarian-born Christo Vladimirov Javacheff came into the world on June 13, 1935 into a Bulgarian industrialist family. He studied art at the Fine Arts Academy, Sofia, Bulgaria and worked with his partner American, French-born Jeanne-Claude Marie Denat, (June 13, 1935, Casablanca educated University of Tunis) until her death in November 18, 2009 in New York City. He has continued to work on his projects to this day.
After seeing them working together in the video today I was sad to see Christo’s web site with photos of him working on his latest projects alone in his studio. His life seems to have skipped by so quickly when viewed in an afternoon. Furiously working and planning with Jeanne next to him one hour and alone and nearly forty years older only a little later for me. I guess the positive thing about it is that he is still working, still planning and looks still totally enthused by his art. I can only hope that I have that to look forward to no matter what life throws my way.
I am drifting off topic a bit here, sorry about that.
We watched a video about the The Valley Curtain Project. Completed in about 1972 in the United States, this type of project was still very new. It was interesting to see the reactions of people not only working on it but watching its progress.
As with all of Christo’s work that I have seen it is massive. The planning and project management for such a large piece would be enormous, not to mention getting the funding. I think a lot of the infrastructure that goes behind large art projects in particular may be overlooked and it is good to see how many people are involved and how much work goes into them. 1400 square metres of cloth was used for the “curtain” and the project came in at approximately $400,000, which in the early 70s was a huge amount of money (more like millions today).
It was discussed that Christo enjoyed the installation process more than the design and planning. I wondered whether it was all the collaboration with others that made it that way rather than just seeing the whole thing come together, or maybe a combination of the two. No matter what it was, we had a good discussion about why he does what he does, why he may use the materials he chooses and what we can take away from each event. Since these artworks/installations are all temporary (the curtain only staying up for about 28 hours) why go to all the bother? Why create art that is not meant to last?
These can lead to really big questions about the temporary state of our lives and humanity, or even the physical realm. We are all dust, we are all only here for a short time. Even the sun will burn out one day, the universe began and it will most likely end so why create all our art with the goal of making it as long lasting as we can? We create art to enjoy the journey, maybe sometimes it is good to appreciate art the same way. The experience and the journey put away in our memory palaces whilst the art is allowed to disappear.