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Christo and Jeanne-Claude: A Biography

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Christo and Jeanne-Claude: A Biography [ハードカバー]

Burt Chernow

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For their sheer scale and breathtaking audacity, their works have made them among the most celebrated and controversial artists in the world. Valley Curtain stretched 1,250 feet across a valley in Rifle, Colorado; Wrapped Coast covered a mile and a half of Australian coastline with a million square feet of fabric; The Umbrellas deployed 3,100 umbrellas set in Japan and California, each nearly twenty feet tall; Surrounded Islands encircled eleven islands in Biscayne Bay, Florida with six and a half million square feet of bright pink fabric; and Wrapped Reichstag enveloped the entire German parliament in shimmering silver fabric.

For more than forty years, these and many other works by Christo and Jeanne-Claude have reconceived the art of the possible, turned natural and human monuments-streets, bridges, hills, trees, buildings, parks, and islands-into sculptures and paintings, and created dazzling new landscapes and startling new vistas. Often requiring years, even decades, of preparation and planning, these works-not merely feats of aesthetic daring but engineering and organizational marvels-exist for only a few weeks or less. Yet what makes these transient creations linger forever in the mind is their overwhelming and magisterial beauty. They are, in every sense, transformative, and, for the millions who have experienced them in person, unforgettable.

Christo and Jeanne-Claude have been the frequent subjects of films, videos, catalogues, cartoons, monographs, exhibitions, and editorials. Until this biography by Burt Chernow, however, written with the full cooperation of the artists, nothing has connected the intimate details of their lives and the spectacular dimensions of their projects. Christo, the penniless Bulgarian refugee who made his way to Paris during the 1950s, and Jeanne-Claude, the socialite daughter of a prominent French general, seemed an unlikely couple, yet together they forged one of the most enduring partnerships in contemporary art. When they arrived in New York in 1964, Christo was already becoming well known in avant-garde circles for his wrappings of everyday objects; Jeanne-Claude acted as manager, dealer, and accountant. Over time, as Chernow reveals, the fusion of their prodigious gifts-his drawings and her ability to draw things together-produced the works for which today they are known the world over. Chernow recounts their rise from relative obscurity to international renown, revealing both the sources of their art and the heights to which it has quite literally aspired. An epilogue by Wolfgang Volz, a longtime and close collaborator of the artists, as well as their exclusive photographer, provides a fascinating insider's view of what it is like to work, and dream, with them. Christo and Jeanne-Claude is an indelible portrait of the artists and their work, and a moving account of an extraordinary couple.


Burt Chernow lectured at the Museum of Modern Art in New York and was a professor of art history at Housatonic College in Bridgeport, Connecticut. He was also the founder and Director Emeritus of the Housatonic Museum of Art. The author of many books and essays, he died in 1997.

Wolfgang Volz's photographs have appeared in Art, GEO, Paris Match, Der Spiegel, Life, and Time magazines. He has worked with Christo and Jeanne-Claude since 1972 and is the exclusive photographer of their work. He was also technical director of the project to wrap the Reichstag. He lives with his wife, Sylvie, in Dusseldorf, Germany.


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It was the coldest winter in Christo Javacheff's memory. 最初のページを読む
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5つ星のうち 3.0 Line 'Em up & Knock 'Em Down 2013/5/23
By Jackson Quick - (Amazon.com)
Burt Chernow's biography kicks off with the essential early lives of Christo and Jeanne-Claude. He traces their extraordinary tales to their destined intersection, where the novel then follows the structure of C+J's lives through each of their major projects. Chernow largely cites the films as a primary source of information, which if you've already seen all 5 (which I highly suggest doing before reading this book) can get a little repetitious. However there are a good deal of insights and interviews from the supporting members left out of the spotlight, those included being Harry Shuck, Jan Van der Marck, Cyril (their son), and Wolfgang Volz, along with countless other collectors and friends throughout the years.

The abrupt death of Chernow in 1982 left the biography unfinished, where it was then undertaken by Wolfgang Volz. His writing style is less elegant, less poignant and focuses almost entirely on the structural aspects of the latter projects that he oversaw. Crammed into just over 50 pages, it makes for an awkward and hurried end to an engaging, lively story of two genuinely awe-inspiring artists.

Those hungry for a salacious expose of the Christos' most inspiring and also most tragic project, The Umbrellas, will gain nothing from this book. Volz's writings conspicuously leave out any interviews from Christo or Jeanne-Claude on the subject.

All in all it's a good read for dedicated fans of the pair. As a book and a biography however, it's a little lacking.
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