Paris's Pompidou reopens with exhibition dedicated to 'wrap' artist Christo
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The Pompidou centre of modern art in Paris is to reopen after a three-month delay due to Covid-19 with an exhibition dedicated to the late artist Christo and his wife Jeanne-Claude. One of the art world's highest-profile couples, the pair are famous for wrapping up monuments in fabric such as Le Pont-Neuf in 1985 and the soon to be wrapped Arc de Triomphe on the Champs Elysées.
The Pompidou Centre modern art museum in central Paris will reopen to the public on Wednesday with the exhibition Christo et Jeanne-Claude, Paris!, after a three month delay due to the Covid-19 lockdown.
It is dedicated to the period Christo spent in Paris with his wife Jeanne-Claude in the 1950s and 60s, and contains photographs, collages and models used to prepare the wrapping of the Pont-Neuf bridge in Paris in 1985.
A master of ephemeral art, Christo died one month ago, on 31 May in New York, at the age of 84, just missing out on seeing what his most recent project would have looked like – the wrapping up of the Arc de Triomphe in Paris, postponed until autumn 2021.
Born in 1935 in Bulgaria, Christo Vladimiroff Javacheff fled the Communist regime and arrived in Paris in 1958, staying until 1964. During this time he met Jeanne-Claude Denat de Guillebon, the daughter of one of General de Gaulle's close aides.
"The exhibtion is called Christo et Jeanne-Claude, Paris, because these two names are inextricably linked," the curator of the exhibition Sophie Duplaix told AFP.
Notre exposition des œuvres de Christo et Jeanne-Claude va vous emballer ! 🎁— Centre Pompidou (@CentrePompidou) June 25, 2020
Rendez-vous le 1er juillet pour découvrir notre exposition #ChristoParis !
Pour préparer dès à présent votre visite 👉 https://t.co/prPzSGmdhM pic.twitter.com/x2wyealfVb
Not only were the pair very much in love, she explains, Jeanne-Claude's talent with public relations, in particular in political circles, helped Christo get his works into the open space.
The Pont-Neuf project started at early as 1975, notes Duplaix, and it took ten years of negotiating to get it approved.
Notably, former president Jacques Chirac, who was mayor of Paris from 1977, said he was open to the idea, but was worried it would make waves with his voters, an aspect smoothed over in the end by Jeanne-Claude's connections in de Gaullist circles.
In the end, the Pont-Neuf was wrapped up for 15 days (22 September to 7 October 1985).
It was indeed a sight for sore eyes – with its 40,000 square metres of beige cloth, kilometres of ropes, with several divers and climbers to put it into place.
"In the beginning, Christo worked on folded surfaces, made rigid with lacquer. Then progressively, this work evolved with the wrapping of objects. He observed the way the fabric with strings pulled across it created forceful lines," says Sophie Duplaix.
"What he did on a small scale, he wanted to do the same in a public place, it was his way to express his political point of view."
A critique of consumerism
The wrapping up of items, she says was a way of criticising western society's obsession with consumerism.
"Christo loved expressing his convictions in his work," says Serge Lasvignes, President of the Pompidou Centre.
"He liked to provoke reactions from people. Sometimes it seemed he was disappointed when things were too easy."
Over his career, Christo wrapped up the Reichstag in Germany, Central Park gates in New York, the Floating Piers on Lake Iseo in Italy and the channel islands in Miami, Florida.
Until 19 October 2020. Reservation online.
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