by William Grimes | New York Times | May 31, 2020
Christo, the Bulgarian-born conceptual artist who turned to epic-scale environmental works in the late 1960s, stringing a giant curtain across a mountain pass in Colorado, wrapping the Pont Neuf in Paris and the Reichstag in Berlin and zigzagging thousands of saffron-curtained gates throughout Central Park, died on Sunday at his home in New York City. He was 84.
His death was announced on his official Facebook page. No cause was specified.
Christo — he used only his first name — was an artistic Pied Piper. His grand projects, often decades in the making and all of them temporary, required the cooperation of dozens, sometimes hundreds, of landowners, government officials, judges, environmental groups, local residents, engineers and workers, many of whom had little interest in art and a deep reluctance to see their lives and their surroundings disrupted by an eccentric visionary speaking in only semi-comprehensible English.
Again and again, Christo prevailed, through persistence, charm and a childlike belief that eventually everyone would see things the way he did.
At his side, throughout, was his wife, Jeanne-Claude, who, like her husband, used only her first name. In the mid-1990s she began sharing equal billing with him on all their projects, formalizing what the couple insisted had been their practice all along. She died in 2009.
“The Gates,” Christo’s Central Park project, typified his approach. Like nearly all his projects, it began with a drawing, executed in 1979. Then came the seemingly eternal round of lobbying public officials, filing forms, waiting for environmental impact studies, speaking at hearings, rallying support. All of this, Christo insisted, was part of the art work.