Office of Citizen
Rest in Peace,
Christo and Jeanne-Claude: A Partnership of Joy and Beauty
Submitted by Evelyn Kiefer on Tue, 05/23/2006 - 22:46.
When a woman in the audience asked Christo and Jeanne-Claude how they define art, Jeanne-Claude said they don't define art they make art. She went on to say that they make art because "it is our life" and all their works are works of "joy and beauty."
Christo and Jeanne-Claude were both born on June 13th 1935. They have been married for 48 years and they have been artistic partners as well since they met in Paris in the 50s (though Jeanne-Claude has only taken credit for her half since 1994). They emigrated to the United States in 1964 and have lived in SoHo ever since. Their slide show/Q & A/ book signing at Severence Hall was extremely entertaining and inspiring. The CMA's new director, Timothy Rub was there to introduce the artists. The audience had great questions and the couple (Jeanne-Claude a bit more than Christo) answered them in their charming, witty style. I came away with a much greater appreciation for their work. They are a very creative pair with a wonderful out look on life, who obviously love what they do. Jeanne-Claude said the ideas for all their projects "come out of our hearts and our heads." They never take suggestions for projects. Once concieved, their projects take incredible patience and determination -- most take years to get the necessary permission and permits. Once given the go ahead though, public ethusiasm seems to grow quickly. All of Christo and Jeanne-Claude's projects are very short-lived. Most last 14 days. The brief duration is a calculated element of the aesthetic quality intended to generate that tenderness and love people are prone to feel for things that don't last. Jeanne-Claude said their favorite phrase is "once upon a time." A teacher asked them what advice they have for high school students. Jeanne-Claude said -- quite seriously-- "work (at what you want to do) 17 hours a day, 7 days a week with no vacation, but the hardest part is finding what you want to do."
Their passion for art is contagious!