Christo - Page - Interview
One cold winter day in 1964, I got a call from a young French woman inviting me to dinner in SoHo. Her name was Jeanne-Claude and she was married to an artist named Christo. I think they called me because Leo Castelli told them I could speak French. They had just arrived from Paris, where they created a scandal by barricading a street with barrels. Even then people called them “ChristoandJeanne-Claude,” as if the two names were one word. Later I learned they were born on the same day in the same year (June 13,1935). After a delicious dinner prepared by Jeanne-Claude of ketchup on white bread served on a paper plate, they explained how they worked, what they wanted to do, and why they were moving to New York. Already it was obvious they were two of a kind who had become one. Jeanne-Claude, a vivacious, beautiful redhead, would begin a sentence, and Christo, an intense, fast-talking fugitive from Communist Eastern Europe, would finish it in his Bulgarian-accented French, or vice-versa.
Their story was very romantic, and the work they planned to do seemed preposterous in the mid-’60s. But they were brilliant, charismatic, generous, and funny. They were also very courageous. Even if at the time it seemed they were building castles in the air rather than art objects, it was impossible not to like them or listen to their tales of fantastic projects and voyages. Already they had figured out a way of working, conceptualizing the projects together, which Christo—an extraordinarily gifted and academically trained draftsman—would then draw. The money to realize the vast projects, which became more and more ambitious as time went on, came from the sale of Christo’s drawings and collages; but the concrete realization of the projects depended very much on Jeanne-Claude’s amazing organizational skills learned, perhaps, from her step-father, a four-star French general under de Gaulle.