Christo and Jeanne-Claude: The Prinzhorn Prize Exhibition

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© MONA - Museum of New Art
© MONA - Museum of New Art
Christo and Jeanne-Claude: The Prinzhorn Prize Exhibition

7 North Saginaw
Pontiac, MI 48342
December 11th, 2009 - January 30th, 2010
Opening: December 11th, 2009 6:00 PM - 10:00 PM

United States
1pm - 5pm Thursday and Saturday, or, by appointment
photography, mixed-media, installation


The Museum of New Art (MONA) is proud to present its exhibition for internationally renowned artists Christo and Jeanne-Claude at the museum's new Detroit annex, in conjunction with the artists being awarded the Prinzhorn Prize for Lifetime Achievement.

Forty signed reproduction posters of drawings, collages and photographs will offer a Detroit audience the chance to see the artistic process behind many of the monumental public art projects undertaken by Christo and Jeanne-Claude during the past five decades, and a glimpse at those to come.

Christo and Jeanne-Claude have transcended the traditional boundaries of painting, drawing, sculpture and architecture. This exhibition represents the wide variety of media used by the artists and explores the breadth of their work.

The exhibition will include signed reproductions of drawings, collages and photographs for most of the artists’ monumental projects, including The Umbrellas, Japan—U.S.A.,1984-91, The Pont Neuf Wrapped, Paris, 1975-85, Surrounded Islands, Biscayne Bay, Greater Miami, Florida, 1980-83, and Running Fence, Sonoma and Marin Counties, California, 1972-76, and those in progress, including Over the River, Project for the Arkansas River, State of Colorado, and the Mastaba Project for the United Arab Emirates.

Christo and Jeanne-Claude’s installation projects require years of planning. The considerable activity which precedes the installation of a piece is as much a part of the work as the actual installations. Zoning board hearings, public forums, parliamentary debates, legal negotiations, preparatory drawings and collages are part of the process.

This is why each particular progression of activities is referred to as a “project” and the dates for each start with the inception of the idea and end with the completion of the piece.

Christo and Jeanne-Claude were both born on June 13, 1935, he as Christo Javacheff in Bulgaria and she as Jeanne-Claude Denat de Guillebon in Morocco of a French military family. Christo studied at the Fine Arts Academy in Sofia, Bulgaria from 1953 to 1956. In 1957, he escaped Prague, eventually making his way to Paris. There Christo met Jeanne-Claude in 1958 when he was commissioned to paint a portrait of her mother. Jeanne-Claude was educated in France and Switzerland, and earned degrees in philosophy and Latin from the University of Tunis. Since that time, they have collaborated on an impressive array of artistic work.

This celebratory exhibition was organized by the Museum of New Art (MONA) with special thanks to Christo and Jeanne-Claude for their generous donation of the forty signed reproductions of prints, collages and photographs.

The printing technique is a special offset-lithography with a high density of dots. Many of these images are printed on a special paper called hammered cardboard with an ivory surface. It is similar to the paper used by artists for drawing. The paper is very thick, a little rough and therefore very resistant to any damage. The master printer needs between three and ten times the ink in relation to a normal art print paper because the surface is not closed and the ink goes deep inside the paper. This makes the image much more brilliant. 

Other images are printed on standard art print paper with a closed surface. The ink sits on the surface of the paper. Again, the printing technique is a special offset-lithography with a high density. :
Christo has signed the prints of preparatory works: his drawings, collages, and paintings. Both Christo and Jeanne-Claude have signed those prints of completed projects.

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