News  ·  09 | 08 | 2018

"Art is always decided by real, life-size tests"

Interview to Christo

What convinced you to accept Paounov's proposal? Had you seen his previous work? What limits did you set before you started shooting?

We had hundreds of hours of footage after the project, shot by different cinematographers.

We never saw any of Andrey’s previous work. We hired him at the recommendation of Vladimir Yavachev. He had seen his work and liked it very much, so we hired him to make the movie after everything was filmed.


Can we go back to the Floating Piers project? In the film it is well understood that the artistic conception of the work comes first. Your vision, the golden color, the style that create the walkways which interact with the environment.  Do your ideas start from a suggestion or an image or do they arise when they come into contact with a specific place?

All of our projects are done for ourselves. And if other people like it, it's a bonus. It’s very much like a painter who has huge big canvases that they like to fill with color. You don't fill the canvas with color to please someone else, you fill it with color because you like to have the joy of seeing this color.

I have a studio in New York City, where I have lived for over 50 years, and I work on the top floor. I put an idea on paper using drawings, collages, scale models, anything. But the art is always decided by real, life-size tests. When I see them in place, with our collaborators, we can choose the right cables, fabric, colors, et cetera. That is the process for all the projects.

The sites we use are all part of the work. During that time, we see the whole environment with new eyes and a new consciousness. The effect of a project lasts longer than the actual work of art. Years after every physical trace of the work has been removed and the materials recycled, the original visitors can still see and feel them in their minds when they return to the sites of these artworks.


Your artistic involvement is always ephemeral, but also unique. Where does your desire to start with projects that are always radically different from the previous ones come from?

Our projects come from ideas in Jeanne-Claude and my two brains and hearts. I never create works that come from other people's ideas. And we do not accept proposals for a work of art, doing that would make it someone else’s art.

All of our projects are unique, none are created or realized the same. I like to have the real things. I don't like to talk on the telephone or use things such as the computer. I like to see real people, real water, real sun, real wind, real fear and real joy. These are what make up our projects. And that is why we test our projects – it is not decided by me or Jeanne-Claude, but it’s decided by that consensus with real light, real weather and the real site.


In the film an element that increasingly takes the stage is the figure of Vladimir. Can you tell us about your collaboration? Or I'd like to ask something about the transition from the idea to the creation that implies the arrival of other people on the scene.

Vladimir is my nephew, I inherited him, along with Jeanne-Claude’s nephew, Jonathan, who works in our office. When Vladimir started working with us over 25 years ago, he was a photographer’s assistant. Now he oversees the artwork installations, like The Floating Piers. One thing I miss most about Jeanne-Claude is our arguments; she was very critical about our projects, which was helpful to the process. With family, we can argue while we are working together.

But none of these projects could be done by just me and Jeanne-Claude. We need an incredible team of workers – we need engineers, divers, fabricators, sewers, crane operators, and so on. I love to be at a project with the workers during the process. The journey is so incredible and unforgettable. Each work is like an expedition and incredibly invigorating.


In your imaginative constructions, were there any influences that came to you from the world of cinema?