Review of Covered in Color: Christo & Jeanne-Claude’s Fabrics of Freedom

Covered in Color: Christo & Jeanne-Claude’s Fabrics of Freedom Covered in Color: Christo & Jeanne-Claude’s Fabrics of Freedom
by Elisa Boxer ; illus. by Susanna Chapman
Primary     Abrams    48 pp.       g
8/22     978-1-4197-5611-5     $19.99
e-book ed.  978-1-64700-374-6    $15.54

This reverent picture-book biography of the art-world pair (focused mainly on Christo) begins with a formative moment in the young man’s life. While Nazis search his Bulgarian town for Russian propaganda, Christo’s family burns his beloved Russian art books. Nazism is followed by Communism, under which Christo can create only state-sanctioned art; and Boxer draws a through line between political repression and Christo’s eventual conception of his and Jeanne-Claude’s artwork as “a scream of freedom.” Christo later meets and falls in love with Jeanne-Claude in France; the couple moves to New York, where they begin to execute their large-scale art projects, wrapping buildings, coastlines, and islands, and scattering umbrellas across California and Japan. In 2005, they realize their dream of constructing The Gates : twenty-three miles of saffron-curtained archways winding through Central Park. Chapman’s loose, diaphanous illustrations capture the whimsy and exuberance of Christo and Jeanne-Claude’s art. Figures peek through the luminous layers of watercolor as if wrapped in sheer curtains, and abstract designs depict times of emotional turmoil and triumph. Author and artist notes offer more biographical details and invite readers to contemplate the meaning behind the art installations, and a list of recommended sources encourages further exploration of this idiosyncratic pair.

From the November/December 2022 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

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