Kids Learn Installation Art- Christo and Jeanne-Claude

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Kids Learn Installation Art •

Do you know of Christo? Sometimes I forget that not everyone knows famous contemporary artists- (Oh my goodness, that sounds pretentious….) I dropped Fen off at a birthday party today and was immediately asked why our mailbox was covered in a pink sheet. My neighbors are beginning to realize there’s always something strange going on at our house.

Here’s why:

We talked about Christo and Jeanne-Claude this morning. They were a married art-duo until Jeanne-Claude’s death in 2009. I personally think one of the most fun things you can do with your husband is collaborate creatively with him, so the fact that they worked closely together for so long is a total draw for me.

Oh yes, I love their work as well. Here’s what they did if you aren’t familiar with them.

They made outdoor installation pieces in settings all over the world. For one piece, they set up an 18′ high, 24-mile-long ‘fence’ of nylon in southern California:

Christo and Jeanne-Claude - Running Fence. Kids learn installation art on

Christo and Jeanne-Claude 
Running Fence, Sonoma and Marin Counties, California, 1972-76 
Photo: Wolfgang Volz 
© 1976 Christo


They wrapped the Reichstag in Berlin:

Wrapping the Reichstag by Christo and Jeanne-Claude - Kids Learn Installation art •


Christo and Jeanne-Claude
Wrapped Reichstag, Berlin, 1971-95
Photo: Roland Bauer
© 1995 Christo


They wrapped Trees in Riehen, Switzerland:

Wrapped Trees- Christo and Jeanne-Claude. Kids Learn Installation art • #arted


Wrapped Trees- Christo and Jeanne-Claude. Kids Learn Installation art • #arted

Christo and Jeanne-Claude
Wrapped Trees, Fondation Beyeler and Berower Park, Riehen, Switzerland, 1997-98
Photo: Wolfgang Volz
© 1998 Christo

Although their work is visually impressive and often controversial as a result of its scale, the artists have repeatedly denied that their projects contain any deeper meaning than their immediate aesthetic impact. The purpose of their art, they contend, is simply to create works of art or joy and beauty and to create new ways of seeing familiar landscapes. Wikipedia


I absolutely love their work- mostly on an aesthetic level, but also because this kind of art easily opens up the opportunity for a conversation with your kids.

Why do you think they made these?

Do you think they upset some people?

Do you like them? Why or why not?

Do you think they are art?

Would you want to see one of these in real life?

What do you think the artists are implicating on a socio-economic level with these artworks? (Just kidding.)


We took the idea one step further and decided to wrap our mailbox. It’s a perfectly recognizable shape, completely ordinary and ubiquitous, yet when you wrap it up, it takes on an abstract quality and catches peoples’ eyes. Beyond that, who knows?

Kids Learn Installation Art! •

We just enjoyed the process and I hope it got Fen thinking a little bit.

See my other posts in this series:

Kids Learn Installation Art: Andy Goldsworthy

Kids Learn Installation Art: Patrick Dougherty

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  1. 06/24/2013 / 9:05 am

    You know I rather like the shape in that intro photo where she’s putting the sheet on the mailbox. I would be tempted to anchor the corners of the sheet to the ground and then use yarn (or actually sew in some elastic) so that it hugs the mailbox. Is that weird?

    • 06/24/2013 / 9:08 am

      So not weird! Especially since I was hoping she’d do just that- I think it would look cool with the whole mailbox wrapped to show the shape really well, but those stinkin’ kids have minds of their own. I guess this project is a lesson in parenting as well. Yep.

  2. 06/24/2013 / 9:25 am

    What a great project and learning experience for them. Awesome!

    • 06/24/2013 / 10:06 am

      Thanks, Sara! A pretty quick project (unless your kids decide to wrap your house), but it was interesting.

  3. 06/24/2013 / 10:02 am

    Very cool. I love Christo but didn’t remember that he collaborated with his wife. The scale of their art installations is what I love. The trees are my fave – so dreamlike!

    • 06/24/2013 / 10:09 am

      I so love the trees, too. The photographs of his work are amazing (I mean their work). You know, his stuff was credited to just him until he insisted it be credited to both of them- retroactively. I never remembered her, either, but I guess she was always there working with him.

  4. 06/24/2013 / 10:57 am

    I think I like the trees the most – something beautifully spooky about them. I love the hands-on activity for kids, such a wonderful way to explore art!

    • 06/24/2013 / 10:28 pm

      They are spooky- With the light shining through, and their weird shapes. They almost look light ghosts- maybe that’s why they look spooky… thanks for the comment!

  5. 06/24/2013 / 11:12 am

    I love that you figured out how to make a Christo-like installation art managable for kids! Pink sheet over the mail box?!! GENIUS! Man, my kids wish I were more like you! Always thinking up the fun cool stuff to get the neighbors talking!

    • 06/24/2013 / 10:29 pm

      Aw, you. I bet your kids are pretty happy with the mom they have. As far as the project, it was either the mailbox or the 40-foot pine trees in the back yard, so I think we chose wisely.

  6. 06/24/2013 / 11:15 am

    I personally have a problem with that kind of art. It just seems to me to be like a bunch of teenagers having a good time doing April fools tricks on everyone. Remember how difficult it was for the Impressionists to gain a foothold in the art world ? (yes I remember personally)somehow I don’t think Christo’s stuff would have made the cut

    • 06/24/2013 / 10:31 pm

      So interesting- I love hearing what everyone has to say about installation art, since opinions seem to differ wildly.

  7. Sunny
    06/24/2013 / 11:55 am

    I don’t have a problem with installation art per se, but the scale of Christo’s art is not my favorite. It seems “too much” for my taste. However, I love your mailbox art. My husband, with my kids usually, paints our mailbox at least twice a year. It’s been all kinds of colors and patterns for the last few years. I think it’s how people know they’ve arrived at the correct house! 😉

    • 06/24/2013 / 10:34 pm

      Oh, wow! That’s interesting that you have an issue with the scale- there’s no denying the scale of their work is one of the main components. Our little mailbox was fun to pull off, though- and I think it did the trick in introducing this sort of work to Fen.

      I LOVE that you have an artistically-morphing mailbox! Have you taken pics of all the changes? How cool.

      • sunny
        06/26/2013 / 10:22 am

        LOL, I don’t know WHY the scale bothers me; maybe I just like more subtle things that make me do a double take.

        I had not even thought of taking picture of the mailbox! What a great idea! I have a new photographer in the family (DS7), so that may be his new project! 🙂

        • 06/29/2013 / 11:17 am

          That’s funny- I know what you mean, though about the ability of subtle things to catch your eye. Feel free to share some mailbox photos on my Facebook wall when you take them- I’d love to see!

  8. 06/27/2013 / 9:36 pm

    That’s neat. I like installations and I think you just helped me figure out why – because they make us see something differently.

    • 06/29/2013 / 11:15 am

      Yes! Or at least they make us stop and look at something for a minute. I think most of us just take all the stuff around us for granted- I know I do.

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