Sofia Gallery to Host Major Christo / Jeanne-Claude Exhibition for 1st Time
Bulgarian-born artist Christo and his homeland are eventually to meet after 57 years – not personally, though.
This autumn will be the first time that a Bulgarian gallery hosts a major exhibition by the artist Christo (born Christo Vladimirov Javacheff) and his life partner, late Jeanne-Claude, known outside Bulgaria for the wrapping of the Reichstag in Berlin, the Pont-Neuf bridge in Paris other eye-catching projects around the globe.
Organized with the exclusive support of Christo, the retrospective includes 130 original numbered editions of prints and objects by the couple, as well as photographs by Wolfgang Volz of their works over more than fifty years.
It will be available from September 14 to November 22 at the Sofia City Art Gallery, and an official opening will take place at 18:00 on September 13.
“Christo and Jeanne-Claude: Prints and Objects 1963-2014” was compiled by the Bulgarian-born artist to present his and Jeanne-Claude's “oeuvre around the world. It traces in exhaustive detail, both chronologically and thematically, Christo’s progress as an artist on his own and his collaboration with Jeanne-Claude, which led to some of the most remarkable projects in contemporary art: Wrapped Reichstag, The Pont Neuf Wrapped, Running Fence, The Gates, The Umbrellas, Surrounded Islands, Over The River, The Mastaba, etc.,“ the Sofia City Art Gallery says in a message to the media.
The collection also features a number of projects that were never carried out but that Christo deems important to understand the two artists' creative thinking.
Given the ephemereal nature of Christo and Jeanne-Claude's larger pieces, most of which use wrapping or other art installations to briefly transform familiar landscapes into works of art, it is preliminary sketches and photographs (part of the forthcoming exhibition) that help preserve the images they created and the places they “reinvented” around the world.
Christo also provided most of the funding for the exhibition, also designing the arrangement of the works.
Born in Bulgaria more than 80 years ago, Christo was in his 20s when he fled Communism in the Eastern Bloc as an arts student in Czechoslovakia. After reaching neutral Vienna and subsequently moving to Geneva and France, he settled in Paris where he met Jeanne-Claude to stay with her for the rest of his life. The two moved to the United States in 1964. At the time the Bulgarian regime had already deprived him of his citizenship and labelled him a deserter – a fact that prevented him from returning to the country even to attend his mother's funeral in 1982 for fear of persecution.
Up until Jeanne-Claude died in November 2009, they did all of their large-scale projects together, though they were only recognized as an artistic duo in the 1990s (most of the fame had been for Christo before that).
Here, Christo is also known for refusing to use his mother tongue and for not visiting the country even though Communism has been over for the past 25 years. But as far as one can tell, this has nothing to do with his homeland or his roots. Christo would never hide he is Bulgarian.
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