Frequently controversial, the large-scale environmental sculptures by Christo and partner Jeanne-Claude force observers to question the nature of art. While their projects are visually impressive and require months or years of planning and preparation, the artists have repeatedly denied that they contain any deeper meaning than their immediate aesthetic impact. The purpose of their art, they contend, is simply to create works of art or joy and beauty and to create new ways of seeing familiar landscapes.
"I am an artist, and I have to have courage," says Christo. "Do you know that I don't have any artworks that exist? They all go away when they're finished. Only the preparatory drawings, and collages are left, giving my works an almost legendary character. I think it takes much greater courage to create things to be gone than to create things that will remain."
The pair's most well-known works include the wrapping of the Reichstag in Berlin and the Pont-Neuf bridge in Paris, the 24-mile-long artwork called Running Fence in Sonoma and Marin counties in California, and The Gates in New York City's Central Park.