Back in the fall of 1991 Trina and I took a long day trip from San Francisco down to the Grapevine to see Christo's umbrellas.
They were incredible to see in person, especially knowing a little bit about what went into the production of the piece. A finished Christo piece is like the tip of an iceberg -- you see this beautiful little bit above the water, while the terrifying process of financing, planning and constructing the work lives under the surface and gives the work its mass.
The artists entirely financed their 26 million dollar temporary work of art through The Umbrellas, Joint Project for Japan and U.S.A. Corporation (Jeanne-Claude Christo-Javacheff, president). Previous projects by the artists have all been financed in a similar manner through the sale of the studies, preparatory drawings, collages, scale models, early works, and original lithographs. The artists do not accept any sponsorship.
Jeanne-Claude Denat de Guillebon, Christo's wife and collaborator, died this week. (Obits from the New York Times and Bloomberg, and a post from Time's Richard Lacayo.) If you haven't seen it, I highly recommend 5 Films About Christo and Jeanne-Claude, a collection of documentaries on the creation of five of their pieces including two of my favorites, "Running Fence" and "Valley Curtain."