Exhibition Past

When Christo fled to the West at the age of 21, in January 1957, he was suffocating in a world of indoctrination. Frustrated by the oppressive ideology of socialist realism preached at the art academy in Sofia, where he had studied for three years, he left Bulgaria in the autumn of 1956 heading towards Prague. Shortly after that, he bribed a railway worker and fled to Vienna in a sealed goods wagon, relinquished his Bulgarian passport, and asked for political asylum. These events shaped his liberal thinking and actions until his death.

After he arrived in Paris in March 1958, free from any imposed precepts and inspired by the progressive Parisian art scene, Christo began to “appropriate” everyday objects, divesting them of their function and permanently preserving them for posterity by wrapping them. Even if the first works were produced as instinctive artistic experiments, Christo soon recognized the direction where his creative process was taking him. His approach was absolutely radical.

What Christo and Jeanne-Claude offered us through their projects were, instead, experiences of reality. They were a form of truth in action, each one profoundly different from the other. Each time Christo and Jeanne-Claude began to work on a project, they started afresh, ready to discover what it would become and how it would evolve. As a different game, with different rules, day after day, the project would reveal itself, emerging from the combination of different energies and forces that could only occur in a condition of full freedom. Freedom of not following a pre-set script requires courage, the courage to walk on an unbeaten path and to face the complexity and unpredictability of reality.

This is the power of Christo and Jeanne-Claude’s projects. They push imagination to the most extreme limits, forcing it to become reality. They affect people’s lives at such a profound level that no other forms of art could ever do.