In December of 2002 The Gallery at Windsor showed The Weston Collection of works by Christo and Jeanne-Claude, the husband and wife artists who together created environmental artworks in urban and rural sites. The exhibition included 39 preparatory works for the artists’ environmental projects including Wrapped Reichstag, Berlin; The Umbrellas, Japan and U.S.A.; The Pont Neuf Wrapped, Paris; and Surrounded Islands, Key Biscayne.
Christo, originally from Bulgaria and Jeanne-Claude, originally from Morocco of a French military family, seemed destined to live and create together, as they were born on the same day in 1935. Christo studied art in Sofia and Prague. Jeanne-Claude studied Latin and philosophy in Tunis. They met in Paris in 1958 and went on to create an impressive body of large-scale, deliberately temporary works together.
Throughout their 51-year relationship, they paid all expenses associated with their artworks, including the planning, construction, and deconstruction, partly from the sale of Christo’s preliminary drawings, early works from the 1950s and 1960s, and lithographs. They accepted no contributions, grants or other financial assistance, preferring to make their decisions separate from any potential influence of financial backers. These works involved years of planning, meetings and hearings held by governments and communities for approval of their projects.
According to W. Galen Weston who with his wife, the Honorable Hilary Weston established Windsor, “The joy of Christo and Jeanne-Claude’s work is that each work of art is a preparation for something real and monumental. Christo’s draughtsmanship is masterful, but their joint vision for the finished project is more than that- it is an imaginative leap into the extraordinary. As we know, it is not enough simply to possess a splendid vision, and perhaps more than any other artist, Christo and Jeanne-Claude’s brilliance exists as much in the practical execution of these projects as it does in the conception of them. Their tenacity is admirable, their energy enviable – but above all it is their ability to look beyond the horizon that makes us raise our heads and wonder.”