CHRISTO AND JEANNE-CLAUDE
Christo and Jeanne-Claude were both born on June 13, 1935, he in Bulgaria, she in Morocco. They met in Paris in 1958 when Christo was commissioned to paint a portrait of Jeanne-Claude's mother. Since that time they have collaborated on an impressive oeuvre of artistic work. The wrapping of the Reichstag in the summer of 1995 once again placed the Christos in the spotlight of the international art world, a center stage position they have held several times before: in 1991 during the installation of The Umbrellas, Japan-U.S.A., 1984-91; in 1985, with The Pont Neuf Wrapped, Paris, 1975-1985; in 1976, with the installation of the Running Fence, Sonoma and Marin Counties, California, 1972-76; and so on back to their first collaborations in 1961 on the docks of the Cologne harbor. The Christos exhibited in numerous places in Belgium, including the Wurth Museum in Turnhout, the Museum of Contemporary Art in Gent, the Centre d'Art Nicolas de Staël in Braine-L'Alleud and the Guy Pieters Gallery in Knokke-Zoute.
On 3 January 2005, work began on the installation of the couple's most protracted project, The Gates, in Central Park in New York City. They have also referred to it as "The Gates, Central Park, New York, 1979-2005" in reference to the time that passed from their initial proposal until they were able to go ahead with it: only with the permission of the new mayor of New York, Michael R. Bloomberg, were they able to proceed. "The Gates" was open to the public from 12 February until 27 February 2005. A total of 7,503 gates made of saffron-yellow material were placed on paths in Central Park. They were five metres high and had a combined length of 37 km. Bloomberg, a great fan of the Christos, presented them with the Doris C. Freedman award for public art for the installation.
The cost of the project was estimated at $21 million US dollars which was raised entirely by Christo and Jeanne-Claude selling studies, drawings, collages, works from the 1950s and 1960s as well as original photographs of their other works. They did not accept any sponsorship, nor did the city of New York have to provide any money for the project. Christo and Jeanne-Claude donated all the money raised from the sale of souvenirs such as postcards, t-shirts and posters to "Nurture New York's Nature Inc." To avoid vandalism, around 600 paid employees ("Gate-keepers") distributed 1 million 7 cm² pieces of the material used for the project to visitors. The Gate-keepers also provided information to visitors about the project, and were responsible for unrolling the gates that had rolled over their crossbars in the high wind.