Friday, June 12, 2015

Arty Farty Fri: Gemini Twins: Christo & Jeanne-Claude

A pair of artists with Sun in Gemini who were astrological twins, and married too: Christo & Jean-Claude, creators of environmental art. Full names: Christo Vladimirov Javacheff and Jeanne-Claude Denat de Guillebon.

Jean-Claude sadly died in 2009. Both were born on 13 June 1935, he in Bulgaria, she in Morocco. A matched pair. Their story is told, briefly in an obituary for Jeanne-Claude, by Christopher Turner in The Guardian, here

Their relationship lasted 51 years, and they did everything together, Jeanne-Claude said, except three things: "We never fly on the same airplane… I do not draw. Christo is the one who puts on paper our ideas… And I have always deprived him of the joy of working with our accountant." She described their union as passionate and volatile. "We are terribly argumentative and scream and criticise each other non-stop," she admitted. "It is very helpful. It makes us think. Christo is right 75% of the time."

Samples of their work~
The Wrapping of the Reichstag (former German parliament building)

Valley Curtain, Rifle, Colorado.

Video showing some of their work from the air -

In an interview, fully detailed at a website here the pair explained to the interviewer the thinking/philosophy behind the fleeting nature of their huge works of art which take so long to plan and bring to fruition but remain in view for such a short time. I found this interesting:


Mantegna: Can you tell me more about the element of time in your projects?

Christo: ..... I and Jeanne-Claude would like our projects to challenge and question the people's notion of art. The temporal character of the project challenges the immortality of art. Is art immortal? Is art forever? Is building things in gold and silver and stones to be remembered forever? It is a kind of naiveté and arrogance to think that this thing stays forever, for eternity. It probably takes greater courage to go away than to stay.

All these projects have this strong dimension of missing, of self-effacement, that they will go away, like our childhood. our life. They create a tremendous intensity when they are there for a few days. When they are there for 14 days, they create an urgency and sympathy because they are going to go away, they will disappear. All this is translated into a nomadic quality, like the tribes in the Sahara and Tibet. It is translated by the biggest amount of material in this project. This project has fabric, ropes, steel, aluminum, but the biggest amount is the fabric, the cloth. The cloth is the principal element to translate the vulnerability, the temporariness and the fragility of the work, very much like a nomadic tribe that moves through the desert. They fold their tents and overnight they could build an entire village and the next day they would be gone. This is why this project is prepared off-site for several months, but the final installation is a very fast, very fresh operation. It happens at once, like the Umbrellas that opened in a matter of a few hours and the whole project was completed. But, at the very bottom, immortality is linked with a very essential part of this project.

All these projects are about freedom. They happen not because some president of the country liked them, some minister of culture, or some corporate executive or some major of a city; these project happened because the artist liked to have them and, of course, they have this incredible proportion and presence. Nobody can own this project, nobody can buy the project, nobody can possess the project, or charge tickets. This project is a demonstration of freedom. A demonstration of absolute freedom and total irrationality. The world can live without Umbrellas, without Valley Curtain or Running Fence. They have no other reason to be there except poetical creativity, total creativity. That freedom is the most important part of this project and this is why they cannot stay, because freedom is the enemy of possession and possession is equal to permanence …

Jeanne-Claude: … Possession is equal to permanence, so freedom is the enemy of permanence.

Christo: Of course, to keep that freedom to exist absolute, we pay for our projects. No strings attached, no bowing to anybody, no sponsors, no compromises …

Jeanne-Claude: It is very expensive to be free …
Jeanne-Claude: Did we explain that we recycle all the material used in every project? We don't reuse it, of course, but is reused by other people for other purposes, industrial, agricultural , or ecological use, like in sandbags to contain the floods of a river. For instance, the aluminum of the Umbrellas, which was a big part of the cost of the project, today has been melted, there are no Umbrellas and the aluminum is probably part of an airplane flying in the sky, or a can of Ginger Ale.


Christo, born 13 June 1935 in Gabrovo, Bulgaria, at 10.00 pm (data from

Jeanne-Claude born 13 June 1935 in Casablanca, Morocco, at 6.00 pm (data from

Hmmm - it's hard to know what to say about this! But it's nice to know that two individuals so similar in nature managed to sustain such a long and loving relationship. It's often the differences that cause a spark between two people, here any difference relies on rising sign and house position. That indicates Christo's Capricorn rising reflected a somewhat steadier, businesslike nature, while Jeanne-Claude's Sagittarius rising was more adventurous, risk-taking and lively overall. Another factor could be that their charts are of the "splash pattern" variety - no excess of emphasis anywhere, leaving lots of leeway for a variety of moods, interests and ideas. Two people with "bundle" charts with planets squeezed into just three or four signs - the same three or four signs, might not fare so well together - just a thought.

As for the unusual style they were drawn to in their artworks - where's an indication of that in the charts? I look first to Uranus (eccentricity, the unusual) and find it in challenging square to Venus planet of the arts - Uranus could be seen to be saying to Venus, "Come something different!" There's Neptune (imagination, creativity) opposing Saturn - here Neptune's imagination was itching to do something to solid traditional Saturn - like wrapping it in oodles of coloured fabric?

Their natal Moon conjunct expansive Jupiter in Scorpio speaks of big ideas involving some kind of transformation.


Bob said...

Thanks for the audio-visual treat.

2 other people born on the same day (no times found), but having only a very short time relationship when one murdered the other.

Robert Napper, born Feb 25, 1966, born in Erith, a district of south-east London within the London Borough of Bexley.

Samantha Bisset, born the same day as Napper. See below. "Ms Bisset grew up in a middle-class Dundee household . . ."

"In May 1994 a paranoid schizophrenic by the name of Robert Napper was arrested and charged with the Blisset murders, having been belatedly identified as a result of fingerprint evidence found at the crime scene. (The delay in his arrest being explained by the fact that he not only had the same birthday as his victim but also had fingerprints that were so similar to hers that it took some time for the forensic service to realise that they were in fact from two different people.)"

Twilight said...

Bob ~ Interesting, especially the bit about their fingerprints - thanks! I brought up a quick 12 noon natal chart for Napper, it shows 4 natal planets in Pisces (Sun, Saturn, Mars, Mercury - the last 3 conjoined), and opposed by a Pluto/Uranus conjunction in Virgo.

There are a couple of posts in the archives about an astrological twin of mine (who has died, but who also had a real twin who I think is still around). This link is to the 2011 post, and there's a link in it to my 2006 post.

mike said...

These two mates are an interesting duo and their liaison supports the duality-twin characteristic of Gemini. It's common practice when comparing two individuals for compatibility to overlay their charts to determine planetary placements in the houses of the other chart. In this case, her planets obviously lay where his are in his houses and vice versa. Both have planets in the 5th, 7th, and 8th houses of romance and partnership, eg her Sun in the 7th falls in his 5th house...his Sun in the 5th falls in her 7th...her Pluto-S Node in the 8th falls on his DSC 7th, his Pluto-S Node falls in her 8th. I imagine their attraction was very strong.

Their art brings a mixed reaction for me. I'm not in tune with their brand of art, and their projects have been scrutinized for possibly defacing the natural settings they chose to erect their works with potential for environmental damages. They spent a fortune erecting their art. Had they spent the same amount of money surrounding a refugee camp in grandiose food supplies, I would view this as applied art and not a wasteful ruse. Their urban projects, while not damaging nature or the environment, seem trite. But, hey, who am I to judge? No artist here...LOL. Their art is definitely "Gemini"...illusory, transitory and temporal.

mike (again) said...

P.S. - Synastry and midpoints are usually utilized for compatibility. These two individuals have no true planetary midpoints. All of their planetary synastry consists of conjunctions.


"Whenever the Moon, Sun, ASC, or Venus form a conjunction with the same very placement of another (i.e, Moon-Moon), or with one of the others in that group (i.e., Sun-ASC), it is especially strong for compatibility. Mars-Mars conjunctions are generally pretty volatile and conflicting, however, but are certainly good for sexuality per se, at least at first. Conjunctions in particular, with the exception of Mars (or Saturn or Pluto) conjunctions give the most compatibility. As always, the whole picture, rather than just individual details, absolutely must be taken into consideration. A relationship simply cannot be read with any one astrological ingredient. But conjunctions are really the best aspect for compatibility in general, because compability is primarily about similarity, and no aspect indicates similarity like a conjunction does."

Twilight said...

mike + (again) ~ Thanks for the helpful extra astrological information.
I'm not sure how I feel about this pair's style of art. It's hard to come to any decision without having actually seen it in real life. It's an eccentricity for sure, and probably a good thing that there aren't more artists doing the same sort of thing! I do take your point about possible environmental damage, and the waste of resources involved, all just to provide a fleeting effect. If asked "Why do you do this?" I suspect they might have replied "Because we can!"

Anonymous said...

In general, I like most "artsy stuff"
From Chet Atkins to Leonard Zelig.
From Uppsala to Down-under.
... Normally, I'm somewhat laissez-faire about it all.

But I quite like this ...

... Especially the shot of the bridge ... with Institut de France ... and tour Eiffel in the mist.


Sonny G said...

whats ART for one person is EWWWWW for another...

as for relationships , my closest and longest lasting was with someone who also had venus and
mars in Cap- I am cap sun with heavy sag leanings:)and he was 2nd decan scorpio.. married 21 years- 18 years later, still great friends and trusted confidants..

Twilight said...

Anon/kidd ~ Thanks - that's a very good link, with sketches and photographs, giving us a better view of one of their works. The last photo - night-time one - that must have been a spectacular sight!

Twilight said...

Sonny ~ That's true, it wouldn't do for u all to enjoy the same thing - the lines to see stuff would be too long! ;-)

Detecting astrologically how relationships work is quite an iffy business, I've always thought. We've mentioned Robert Camp's "Love Cards" system here before, I think - I've found that to be a very reliable guide - no idea how it works, but then we've no idea how astrology works (when it does) either.

Anonymous said...

Here are a couple of sisters on George Stroumboulopoulos.
... listen to 5:22+ especially

They have a book ...

I have it in my collection.


LB said...

" . . . possible environmental damage, and the waste of resources involved . . ."

Interesting post, Twilight. Although I understand and appreciate how challenging (if not impossible) it can be to try and create using only recycled and ethically-sourced materials, that quote sums it up for me. I like the idea behind Christo and Jean-Claude's message, just not their method of delivery. I get how hard it is to let go of our artistic creations and to accept the impermanent nature of 'things'.

In contrast, I've seen and admired Brandon Anderton's sand-art (not all his work is on sand). I love how he's able to create intricate designs without causing any direct environmental damage and without holding on. He creates then allows his creations to be swept away, returned to the sea. He does canvas art too (which I'm sure is amazing as well), only it's obviously not as environmentally friendly or as 'Neptunian':

In case the YouTube link doesn't work, try googling "Sunset and peaceful reflection" - by Brandon Anderton. Here's the link to a longer article about him, which has a strong Chiron theme:

In the article, several other artists known for interacting with the environment in natural ways are also mentioned. It reminded me of how as a kid vacationing in Yosemite, someone (was it me?) once had the idea to stack small rocks on top of larger rocks all along the river. It attracted a lot of attention at the time, only lasting a few days.

Twilight said...

Anon/kidd ~ What a terrible thing to have separated them - for study purposes! Very interesting story though - thank you for the links.

Twilight said...

LB ~ Brandon Anderton's work is beautiful, and considering his pain and physical state makes it even more amazing. Thanks for the links.

The artist I think of in this regard is Patrick Dougherty (Search his name in Google Image for lots of photos of his sculptures created from...well....sticks, brush, branches).

I think that part of my work’s allure is its impermanence, the life cycle that is built into the growth and decay of saplings. My focus has always been the process of building a work and allowing those who pass to enjoy the daily changes or drama of building a sculpture as well as the final product. However, the line between trash and treasure is thin, and the sculptures, like the sticks they are made from, begin to fade after two years. Often the public imagines that a work of art should be made to last, but I believe that a sculpture, like a good flower bed, has its season.

– Patrick Dougherty

And here

LB said...

Thanks for the link, Twilight. I enjoyed Patrick Dougherty's stickworks; they're pretty original.:) Unlike the sand designs, the sticks and branches take a bit longer to disintegrate and eventually return to the wilderness rather than the ocean. Either way, it's about returning to source.

mike (again) said...

"Originally called 'The Temple of Nature,' the man-made wonder was built one stone at a time from thousands of pebbles that postman Joseph Ferdinand Cheval collected for 33 years."|main5|dl15|sec1_lnk3%26pLid%3D1718998223

Twilight said...

mike (again) ~ Wow!!!! Now THAT is a work of art! Amazing. Thanks for the links.