World-Renowned Artist Christo to be Awarded Commander of the Order of Arts and Letters

November 2, 2015 | By French Culture

NEW YORK, October 30, 2015 – Christo Vladimirov Javacheff (or “Christo”), the multimedia artist who is known for executing large-scale temporary works of art in collaboration with his late wife, Jeanne-Claude (1935-2009), will be awarded the insignia of Commander of the Order of Arts and Letters by Bénédicte de Montlaur, Cultural Counselor of the French Embassy, on Monday, November 2, 2015, at the Payne Whitney Mansion in New York, home to the Cultural Services of the French Embassy.

For more than five decades, Christo’s and Jeanne-Claude’s original installations on and around natural and man-made structures have sparked intense conversations and debate among art critics and laypeople alike. Their many ambitious projects, several of which have been brought to fruition, involve years of research on materials and location, logistical preparation, and international dialogue. They prompt viewers to consider different perspectives on the topics of time and perception versus reality through their novel ways of interacting with the landscape. Colors—particularly sand tones and goldenrod—play an essential role in Christo’s and Jeanne-Claude’s pieces, which reveal structures, objects, and our physical environments in a new light.

Some of their most notable pieces include Wrapped Reichstag (1995), in which they wrapped the Reichstag in Berlin in fabric; The Pont Neuf Wrapped (1985) in which they wrapped the Pont Neuf in Paris in sand-colored fabric; The Gates in New York City’s Central Park (2005), in which more than 7,000 bright orange vinyl watches were hung along paths in Central Park. Christo’s technique was dubbed “revelation through concealment” by critic David Bourdon.

Born in Bulgaria, the artist dropped out of Vienna’s Academy of Fine Arts and became acquainted with the art world in France, where he met Jeanne-Claude as well as Pierre Restany, the leading figure of the nouveau réalisme artistic movement, and became inspired by the legacy of Dadism and Marcel Duchamp.

Upcoming projects include a series of golden piers, which outline and connect the islands of Lake Iseo in Italy (The Floating Piers, slated for June 2016) and The Mastaba, the largest statue in the world, which will be unveiled in the United Arab Emirates.

Christo’s most remarkable works include: Iron Curtain-Wall of Oil Barrels blocking the Rue Visconti, Paris (1962); Wrapped Museum of Contemporary ArtChicago, 1969The Pont Neuf WrappedParis, 1975-85The UmbrellasJapan-U.S.A., 1984-91; Wrapped ReichstagBerlin1971-95The Gates, Central Park, New York City, 1979-2005The Floating PiersProject for Lake Iseo, Italy (In progress)The MastabaProject for the United Arab Emirates (in progress).

The Order of Arts and Letters (Ordre des Arts et des Lettres) was established in 1957 to recognize eminent artists and writers, as well as people who have contributed significantly to furthering the arts in France and throughout the world. The Order of Arts and Letters is given out under the jurisdiction of the Minister of Culture and Communication.  American recipients of the award include Paul Auster, Ornette Coleman, Agnes Gund, Marilyn Horne, Jim Jarmusch, Richard Meier, Robert Paxton, Robert Redford, Meryl Streep, and Uma Thurman. 

The Cultural Services of the French Embassy promotes the best of French arts, literature, cinema, language, and higher education across the US. Based in New York City, Washington D.C., and eight other cities across the country, the Cultural Services brings artists, authors, educational and university programs to cities nationwide. It also builds partnerships between French and American artists, institutions and universities on both sides of the Atlantic. In New York, through its bookshop Albertine, it fosters French-American exchange around literature and the arts. www.frenchculture.org

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Media Contact:
Judith Walker - + 1 (212) 439-1417 – judith.walker@diplomatie.gouv.fr
Frenchculture.org - @franceinnyc - facebook.com/frenchculture

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