Famous for his works alongside his wife Jeanne-Claude Denat de Guillebon in which the pair wrapped famous architectural landmarks and outlined islands with massive amounts of fabric, or stacking oil drums to form large sculptures entitled “Mastabas,” Christo cemented himself alongside his wife as perennial figures in the world of Environmental and Contemporary art in the second half of the 20th century and the start of the 21st.
Born in Gabrovo, Bulgaria, Christo joined a group of defectors in 1957 at the age of 21 and soon arrived in Vienna, Austria, where he enrolled at the Vienna Academy of Fine Arts, although he only remained for a semester. He then traveled to Geneva and settled in Paris in 1958 where he would meet his wife. Although plenty of their more famous wrapped work wasn’t realized until partway through the 1970s and then until his death, Christo maintained that such monumental ideas were persistent in his creative mind by 1961,and took their earliest forms in the way of wrapped bundles of paper, portraits of his wife, motorcycles, and then cars. Moreover, major projects like Wrapped Reichstag (1995) took 24 years from initial conceptual planning to completion. In 1994, Jeane-Claude was added retroactively as a collaborator on many of his works.
Christo passed away in May of 2020, while Jeane-Claude passed away in 2009. Both artists have made it clear that their works in progress be continued beyond their deaths. L’Arc de Triomphe, Wrapped (Project for Paris) is still expected to be completed by September 18th, 2021 and shown until October 3rd of that year.
The above drawing is a preliminary drawing for a temporary sculpture of oil drums in line with his series of the same concept, one at the Institute of Contemporary Art at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia in 1968 and another in Serpentine Lake in Hyde Park, London in 2018. The project in question, Texas Mastaba, which would have consisted of 500,000 oil drums, was never realized. However, the drawing persists as an incredible example of Christo’s innate ability to conceptualize some of his grandest aspirations while also joining other drawings and sketches by Christo that signify the start of projects that took decades to complete.