Of course there is criticism again of Christo. At least in its yards, because the artist himself passed away in 2020. The immediate cause of the disturbance was the encapsulation of the Arc de Triomphe by CVJ Corp, the company that Christo and his wife Jean-Claude founded in 1969 to fund and realize their plans.
Christo Arc de Triomphe wrapped Critics consider it another project that consumes a lot of money and does not serve any purpose. Additionally, Christo doesn’t seem to care much about the environment or sustainability with his paranoid eco-art.
Such objections were often raised against Christo’s work, and although only a third of their plans were moving forward, they were memorable projects, such as the encapsulation of the Pont Neuf (1985) or the Reichstag in Berlin (1995).
Criticizing the extravagant nature of Christo’s art is meaningless. To some extent, Christo and Jean-Claude assert that by selling preliminary studies and scale models, they pay for everything out of their own pockets. It gave them complete artistic freedom and silenced their critics.
This also applies to those who have raised objections to the environmentally harmful nature of Christo’s creations. The artist duo never fails to mention that the materials they used were sustainably produced and completely recyclable.
Thus, while some of the criticisms of Christo’s and Jeanne-Claude’s projects seem unwarranted, there are still reasons to question the nature of Christo’s art. Sometimes CVJ Corp seems to be more of a well-equipped marketing machine than a creatively driven artist collective machine. In any case, there was not much wrong with Christo’s sense of publicity.
As the projects of Christo and Jeanne Claude attracted increased publicity interest, Christo developed into a global brand. In order to continue to give the image of Christo the correct meaning, Christo and Jeanne-Claude have constantly told the same stories over the years. The way the duo fund their projects has long been discussed, as well as the history of the young artist who fled to Vienna as a student. The marketing of the wrapped Arc de Triomphe regularly mentions that in his Parisian era, Christo rented a very modest room overlooking the famous Arc de Triomphe. It was also confirmed that Christo had been planning to pack Arc for sixty years. It is no coincidence that during installation Arc de Triomphe wrapped Sotheby’s puts 25 of Christo’s drawings and paintings under the hammer.
One aspect of Christo’s image that somewhat contradicts this is the courtship of the absurd and useless nature of his art. By openly acknowledging that his projects were utterly meaningless and nothing but an end in themselves – meaningless and without a message – he achieved the ancient archetype of the freelance artist. But in his blatant admission of this, he also made some kind of sarcastic comment. As a result, he always manages to give the audience the impression that they are part of something great, with which they can transcend their time.
In and of itself, it is of course good that art has no message or meaning, and art may be what he wants, but the question still arises as to what the difference is with Disney. Like Disney, Christo offers audiences an unforgettable experience. There’s nothing wrong with that, but Christo may be more entertaining than the artist.
It will soon be hard to spot anything of a message in the storied Arc de Triomphe. It’s a wraparound arc. Nothing more and nothing less. but no problem. Because in all likelihood it will be a great visual experience that many will remember for a long time to come. And most of all, all this is presented to us at no cost to the taxpayer and without causing any harm to Paris or the environment. But the question to what extent it is an art is debatable.
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