Christo Vladimirov Javacheff died at his home in New York on May 31

By Jason Duaine Hahn
June 01, 2020 01:51 PM
Credit: Tim P. Whitby/Getty

Christo Vladimirov Javacheff, the famed artist known for his largescale public artworks, died Sunday at his home in New York at age 84, announcements shared on his social media accounts confirmed.

The artist and his late wife, Jeanne-Claude Denat de Guillebon, became widely celebrated for their impressive public displays that have been featured all over the world since the 1960s. The duo — who, together, were simply known as Christo and Jeanne-Claude — conceived of unique works that saw them raise thousands of orange gates in New York's Central Park in 2005, wrap Paris' oldest bridge in fabric in 1985, and place 70,000 square meters of yellow fabric on a floating dock system in Lake Iseo in Italy in 2016.

After Jeanne-Claude's death in 2009, Christo continued to work on projects they had started together.

"Christo lived his life to the fullest, not only dreaming up what seemed impossible but realizing it," a statement posted to the duo's website on Sunday reads. "Christo and Jeanne-Claude's artwork brought people together in shared experiences across the globe, and their work lives on in our hearts and memories."

According to the website, Christo's plan to wrap the famed L'Arc de Triomphe in Paris will move forward next fall.

"Christo and Jeanne-Claude have always made clear that their artworks in progress be continued after their deaths," the statement said.

"The Gates" in Central Park
| Credit: Shutterstock

Aside from their massive size, Christo and Jeanne-Claude's artworks were especially unique in that they were impermanent — and this was something they took pride in.

“Artists – and above all architects – seek permanence,” Christo once said, according to The Guardian. “I don’t. I like leaving nothing. That takes courage.”

Christo was born in June 1935 in Bulgaria and left the country in his early 20s. After living in Czechoslovakia, Austria and Switzerland, he moved to Paris, where he met Jeanne-Claude in 1958.

Three years later, the duo would debut their first large-scale artwork together, "Stacked Oil Barrels and Dockside Packages," which consisted of a series of wrapped oil barrels placed at the Port of Cologne in Germany.

“I make things that have no function – except maybe to make pleasure,” Christo told the Guardian in an interview in 2018.

"The Floating Piers" in Italy
| Credit: Simona Chioccia/Fotosicki/Shutterstock

Throughout their time together, Christo and his wife funded their work by selling preparatory drawings, and never accepted any sponsorship for their art.

"We pay with our money! No grants, no money from the industry," Christo said in 2018, according to CNN. "All these projects get initiated by us. Nobody asked us to do it. Nobody asked us to wrap the Reichstag. Nobody asked us to install floating piers. We decided that we do exactly what we like to do."

“We have always been good at negotiating," he added to the Guardian of financing projects. "And we needed to be, otherwise, these projects would never have been realized. But we have always been very good at getting banks to supply lines of credit."

The couple is survived by their son Cyril Christo, who is a photographer, filmmaker and animal rights activist, CNN reported.