Christo (American/Bulgarian, b.1935) is a sculptor best known for his unique wrapped works, which span from small-scale wrapped books to entire buildings and sites in nature, encased in fabric. Christo, born Christo Vladimiroff Javacheff, attended the art academy in Sofia as a youth, trained in the Socialist Realist aesthetic of the era. He moved to Prague, where he was first exposed to the work of early European modernists, and later to Paris, where he befriended a group of artists including Yves Klein and Jean Tinguely, who called their artistic movement “New Realism.” Christo also met his wife and artistic partner Jeanne-Claude Guillebon in Paris, and the two would collaborate on future outdoor and public works; Jeanne-Claude also manages the financial and organizational aspects of many of the large-scale works.
Christo first began wrapping small objects, such as cans, books, and furniture, in the early 1960s, and then expanded his production to include crates, cars, and bicycles. In 1964 he and Jeanne-Claude moved to New York, where Christo worked on monumental outdoor and environmental sculptures, including a wrapped fountain in Italy, the swathing of the Kunsthalle in Bern, Switzerland in fabric, the creation of the fabric Runnning Fence down the California coast, and the wrapping of a mile of the Australian coastline in Wrapped Coast. He gained both positive and negative criticism for his sculptures and installations, which expanded to include the wrapping of the Pont-Neuf bridge in Paris, and the placing of a line of umbrellas—hundreds of miles long—in the Pacific ocean between Japan and the United States. In one of the most poignant and meaningful pieces, Christo and Jeanne-Claude wrapped the Reichstag in Germany, symbolic of the healing old wounds between the previously divided state. In addition to his wrapped sculptures, which often require millions of dollars and hundreds of assistants to create, and are funded entirely by Christo and Jeanne-Claude, Christo has created many collages and works on paper in preparation for each sculpture. Most recently, he worked on >The Gates for Central Park in New York City, where he continues to reside after Jeanne-Claude's death in 2009.