Posted by: Tony Carson | 20 November, 2009

Christo & Jeanne-Claude — going BIG to the end

When I was in grade school I was told to draw a picture of Classical Greece putting in all the obvious places from Olympia to the Hellespont to the Colossus of Rhodes. Being a good, if failing student, I did as I was told and found a sheet of paper that I had to pack a lunch to walk across. I probably went through five boxes of crayons and a hundred hours, but I got it done. It was pretty crappy even to my eyes, every bit the work on an untalented 12 year old.

The guy’s name was Roger. He handed in an 8.5″ x 11″ page with an outline of the known Greek world and in entirely appropriate places he had drawn small circles with a compass and sketched in appropriate images. It might have taken him an hour and a lot more megawatt-age than I had.

But I learned my lesson. Given a choice, Go Small.

That’s why I’ve always been so conflicted with Christo, the guy who puts fabric over bridges, buildings and around islands and a gazillion umbrellas on a beach. It would be so much easier to just put a handkerchief over a model skyscraper or a napkin over some tiny town.

But it was his thing and he shared his passion with his wife, Jeanne-Claude, who died on Wednesday at the age of 74.

Here is a Slate retrospective of their work. The art of Christo and Jeanne-Claude (1935-2009)



  1. RIP – Jeanne-Claude, 74, who shared a birthday w/ husband and partner, Christo. May she wrap heaven in shimmering fabrics.

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