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Conceptual artist Christo who famously wrapped landmarks dies at 84
CHRISTO, the Bulgarian-born conceptual artist who turned to epic-scale environmental works in the late 1960s, stringing a giant curtain across a mountain pass in Colorado, wrapping the Pont Neuf in Paris and the Reichstag in Berlin and zigzagging thousands of saffron-curtained gates throughout Central Park, died on Sunday at his home in New York City. He was 84.
His death was announced on his official Facebook page. No cause was specified.
Christo - he used only his first name - was an artistic Pied Piper. His grand projects, often decades in the making and all of them temporary, required the cooperation of dozens, sometimes hundreds, of landowners, government officials, judges, environmental groups, local residents, engineers and workers, many of whom had little interest in art and a deep reluctance to see their lives and their surroundings disrupted by an eccentric visionary speaking in only semi-comprehensible English.
Again and again, Christo prevailed, through persistence, charm and a childlike belief that eventually everyone would see things the way he did.
At his side, throughout, was his wife, Jeanne-Claude, who, like her husband, used only her first name. In the mid-1990s she began sharing equal billing with him on all their projects, formalising what the couple insisted had been their practice all along. She died in 2009.
The Gates, Christo's Central Park project, typified his approach. Like nearly all his projects, it began with a drawing, executed in 1979. Then came the seemingly eternal round of lobbying public officials, filing forms, waiting for environmental impact studies, speaking at hearings, rallying support. All of this, Christo insisted, was part of the artwork.
"For me, esthetics is everything involved in the process - the workers, the politics, the negotiations, the construction difficulty, the dealings with hundreds of people," he told The New York Times in 1972.
"The whole process becomes an esthetic - that's what I'm interested in, discovering the process. I put myself in dialogue with other people".
Christo Vladimirov Javacheff was born on June 13, 1935, into a prominent family in Gabrovo, Bulgaria. He took painting and drawing lessons as a child and went on to study at the Fine Arts Academy in Sofia, the capital, while the country was under Communist control.
Christo is survived by his son, Cyril Christo, a wildlife photographer; his brothers Anani and Stefan, who spell their last name Yavachev; a grandson; and two nephews, Vladimir Yavachev and Jonathan Henery, both of whom helped him with his work. NYTIMES