Christo—a public artist known his for work with Jeanne-Claude, his wife and artistic partner—died at eighty-four on May 31. The couple’s work was iconic: wrapping entire buildings like the Berlin Reichstag in polypropylene fabric, or surrounding Florida islands with a pink version of the same. Christo is preceded in death by Jeanne-Claude, who passed away in 2009. She was born in Morocco, he in Bulgaria. The two met in Paris, and illegally immigrated to the United States (“no, to New York City,” Christo would insist) in 1964. They moved into a SoHo apartment, and resided there until they died. Today, Art in America remembers Christo with a look back at his best recorded lectures: most of the presentations that made their way online are from late in his life, after Jeanne-Claude had died, and many include reflections on the duo’s entire career. Christo’s lectures, like the co-authored artworks, are direct, accessible, and often tinged with humor—though he always insisted that Jeanne-Claude was the better speaker. The two always began their lectures by stating that they were both born on the same day and the same year: June 13, 1935—“but from different mothers,” they’d add. When Christo spoke, he insisted on having the lights turned all the way off while he showed his slides: he did not read from notes. He always encouraged questions after the talks, but warned his audience that he wouldn’t address politics, religion, “and certainly not other artists. I’m still alive and I prefer to talk about myself and our work.” Perhaps the best way to remember him in quarantine is in the dark, with his own words, and maybe even wrapped in a blanket. Below are five of his best lectures, in chronological order.
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