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Christo and Jeanne-Claude (Bulgarian/American, 1935-2009)

Birth Place: France (Jeanne-Claude)

Biography:

Christo and Jeanne-Claude are a married couple whose artistic collaborations often manifest in installation pieces. These pieces are often large, in public spaces, and are environmental in nature (though often the couple has suggested that there is no meaning behind their work and should only be taken for its face value aesthetics). While they have been working together since the 1960s, it is only since 1994 that Jeanne-Claude has been given credit for her part in the artistic process. 

The couple burst onto the avant-garde art scene with the piece Oil Barrels (1962) which mimicked the Berlin Wall, following this success with a series of installation pieces around Europe and Australia. Christo and Jeanne-Claude continued to create even more ambitious work in the 1980s, eventually culminating in The Umbrellas (1984-1991) a $26 million dollar project that included planting umbrellas in Japan and California. The couple would continue to work together until Jeanne-Claude’s death in 2009. 

What type of art did Christo and Jeanne-Claude create?

Christo and Jeanne-Claude were installation artists whose pieces principally dealt with environmental activism. Already active in the installation art scene, Christo’s work would fundamentally change when we met and began working with Jeanne Claude, his wife and artistic collaborator. Their collaborative approach was extremely labor-intensive, often requiring scale models, blueprints, and other paid assistants. 

How often does Christo and Jeanne-Claude art come up for auction?

Christo and Jeanne-Claude’s art frequently comes up for auction. Because of the scale of their installations, much of what is auctioned is part of the planning process -- either blueprints or materials that have to do with the bigger pieces. That said, many of those works are still extremely valuable and can fetch five or six figures at auction, frequently outperforming their estimates and giving great value to the savvy collector. 

How much is a Christo and Jeanne-Claude piece worth?

Christo and Jeanne-Claude pieces can vary wildly in how much they’re worth at auction. Much of this comes from the nature of their work -- pieces that are more closely associated with their “major” works fetch more, while early sketches and drawings are less valuable. Many estimates for these pieces often put their value in the $40,000 - $50,000 range, though many have outperformed these initial values.

Which Christo and Jeanne-Claude work is the most valuable? 

The most valuable piece by Christo and Jeanne-Claude is Wrapped Object (1961) which sold for $638,370 in 2014. It is a medium-sized installation piece, an unknown object wrapped in cords and sheets. It is both signed and dated by the artists. According to the artists, C there is no other intrinsic value to the piece other than it’s aesthetics -- that said, it is beautiful, vexing, and mysterious, hallmarks of any great Christo and Jeanne-Claude piece.

What are the most famous works by Christo and Jeanne-Claude? 

The most famous works of Christo and Jeanne are their installation pieces, which since 1972 have been photographed by Wolfgang Volz. Many of these works are in public spaces, and as such don’t have an extremely long life apart from these photographs. Their first collaboration, Oil Barrels (1962) was in response to the Berlin Wall and consisted of a wall of oil barrels blocking off a large street in Paris. This is a seminal work for the pair and is a perfect example of the provocative nature of a Christo and Jeanne-Claude collaboration. 


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