So, farewell Christo

On Monday at 7.00pm, Cheltenham International Film Festival will be showing Walking on Water, a documentary about the artist Christo Vladimirov Javacheff, known simply as Christo, and his extraordinary project to build a floating walkway across an Italian lake.

This is poignant, because Christo died last Sunday, 31 May, at the age of 84. The artist worked with his wife Jeanne-Claude Denat de Guillebon until her death in 2009. The pair, who met in 1958 and created their first show in 1961, were famous for wrapping natural features and buildings in colourful fabrics. To finance these large-scale works, they would sell their working drawings and sketches on the art market. The actual construction of the works was largely left to assistants. 

Walking on Water, a remarkable film by Andrey Paounov, casts light upon these practises while also illuminating the character of Christo: by turns inspirational and cantankerous. The artwork itself was something of a succès de scandale. Built to allow 45,000 people an hour to cross the lake on floating polystyrene blocks, it attracted 1.2 million visitors in its brief life, causing headaches for the local authorities. Christo is unlikely to be forgotten any day soon. 

©  |  Cheltenham International Film Festival  |  2023