Live Auction: 17 February 2021 • 3:00 PM CET • Paris
Unwrapped, Part I: The Hidden World of Christo and Jeanne-Claude 17 February 2021 • 3:00 PM CET • Paris

I t is always a special moment when works from artists’ personal collections appear on the market, but never more so than when those artists are among the world’s most celebrated names. Sotheby’s is thrilled to announce the sale of works from the long-time New York studio and home of internationally renowned artists Christo and Jeanne-Claude. The captivating collection invites the world to step into the private sphere of the famed artistic couple, through nearly 400 lots that showcase the range of their artistic inspirations, friendships with leading 20th-century artists, and the famed studio where Christo and Jeanne-Claude projected their artistic vision to the world. Additionally, the collection includes several works by Christo and Jeanne-Claude spanning their multi-decade practice, featuring many of their most well-known public projects, such as The Pont Neuf Wrapped, Project for Paris, and The Umbrellas, Joint Project for Japan and USA, as well as their famed Package and Store Front series from the 1960s.

While Christo and Jeanne-Claude are well-known as the artists who have delighted all corners of the globe with their spectacular temporary installations, the stories of their artistic friendships have until now remained entirely private. Sotheby’s sale will allow for a first glimpse of the constellation of artistic friendships and connections that surrounded them through selected works linked to Andy Warhol, Yves Klein, Lucio Fontana, Claes Oldenburg, Marcel Duchamp, William Copley, Nam June Paik, and many more.

Their collection reveals the artists who were in Christo’s circle, foremost among them Andy Warhol (represented by a portrait of Jackie painted in 1964), and the artists he admired such as Gerrit Rietveld (the Hoge armchair), Joan Mirò (with his Personnage sculpture from 1968), and André Cadere (exemplified by one of his round bars of wood from 1975).

Christo & Jeanne Claude’s studio and home, photo by André Grossman © The Estate of Christo V. Javacheff

Other works in the collection are a testament to the friendships that Christo and Jeanne-Claude forged with his peers over their career, including Lucio Fontana, one of the couple's closest friends and among the first admirers of his work. Christo and Fontana first met in 1963 at the opening of his exhibition at Guido Le Noci’s Galleria Apollinaire in Milan. Fittingly, the sale offers Fontana’s Concetto Spaziale, Attesa from the very same year, which is dedicated to Jeanne-Claude.

They were close friends with Claes Oldenburg, who resided in the Chelsea Hotel as Christo and Jeanne-Claude when they arrived in New York in 1964, before moving to 48 Howard Street. In the 60’s, the Chelsea Hotel was the centre of the New York art scene. It hosted many artists, writers and intellectuals who were seeking international success. The sale includes Bacon and Egg, Ice Cream and Beef Steak from the early 1960s, which Claes Oldenburg dedicated to his friend Christo.

Christo & Jeanne Claude’s with "Four Store Fronts Corner, 1964-65", in 1965, photo by Ugo Mulas © UGO MULAS HEIRS. All rights reserved.

Yves Klein and Christo had many exchanges and their friendship is illustrated by Blue Monochrome (IKB 19) from 1958.

CHRISTO’S STUDIO IN NEW YORK, Photo by Wolfgang Volz © The Estate of Christo V. Javacheff

In addition, the sale will include a selection of work by Christo and Jeanne-Claude that represents the breadth of their artistic vision and their bold, experimental style. Including one of their works from the celebrated Package series to a work from their pioneering Storefront series, both from the 1960s, as well as works from their celebrated public projects The Pont Neuf Wrapped, Project for Paris, and The Umbrellas, Joint Project for Japan and USA, the selection on offer in the collection showcases the evolution of their singular artistic vision across decades, while also highlighting their playful preoccupation with concealment as a major theme running throughout their body of work.

Christo (Christo Vladimirov Javacheff) and Jeanne-Claude (Jeanne-Claude Marie Denat) were both born on June 13, 1935, in Gabrovo (Bulgaria) and Casablanca (Morocco) respectively. Christo fled Communist Bulgaria, passing through Prague, Vienna and Geneva to finally settle in Paris in March 1958, and he met Jeanne-Claude in Paris that same year when they were both 23. Following his training at the Academy of Fine Arts in Sofia, Christo retained his mastery of classical disciplines, but never ceased to push artistic boundaries beyond easel painting. It was during Christo's Parisian years that he began to experiment with wrapping, and, together with Jeanne-Claude, began to develop his monumental outdoor projects. These large-scale, immersive, and interactive works would go on to define their signature creative process throughout their careers, earning them international renown and acclaim.

BANNER IMAGE: PHOTO BY ANDRÉ GROSSMAN © THE ESTATE OF CHRISTO V. JAVACHEFF
CALENDAR IMAGE: (DETAIL) SHUNK-KENDER © J. PAUL GETTY TRUST. GETTY RESEARCH INSTITUTE, LOS ANGELES (2014.R.20). GIFT OF THE ROY LICHTENSTEIN FOUNDATION IN MEMORY OF HARRY SHUNK AND JANOS KENDER.

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