Christo (Christo Vladimirov Javacheff) was born in Gabrovo, Bulgaria, on 13 June 1935 and spent his youth under Communist rule. He studied Arts in Sofia and Vienna. Jeanne-Claude (Jeanne-Claude Marie de Guillebon 1935-2009), also born 13 June 1935, was born of French parents in Casablanca, Morocco, and grew up in Paris, Bern, Switzerland, and Gabès, Tunisia, before finally settling with her family in Paris. In 1957, Christo escaped from Eastern Europe to the West. He was wrapping objects in various materials at that time, though it was through portraiture that he primarily supported himself. The couple met in Paris in 1958 when he was making portraits of Jeanne-Claude's mother.
In 1961, the artists began collaborating on monumental projects--endeavors in which the medium has largely been fabric, chosen for its fluid and ephemeral qualities. Christo and Jeanne-Claude share joint authorship of the large-scale projects; however, Christo makes the wrapped objects, packages, scale models, and drawings.
The projects are solely funded by the sale of these works, as the artists do not accept sponsorship.
The Christos' early projects, mainly involving extant architecture, managed to both conceal and underscore the essential character and meaning of a site. Over time, their use of fabric has become freer and more open. The realized projects remain installed for a finite time, yet their impermanence heightens their aesthetic appeal. Their works include the wrapping of the Reichstag in Berlin and the Pont-Neuf bridge in Paris, the 24-mile (39 km)-long artwork called Running Fence in Sonoma and Marin counties in California, and The Gates in New York City's Central Park.