Sofia (AFP)

The plastic artist Christo, famous for his large-scale achievements consisting in particular in packing monuments like the Pont-Neuf in Paris and the Reichstag in Berlin, died on Sunday at 84 years of age, his collaborators said.

The artist, born Christo Vladimirov Javacheff, in Bulgaria, "died of natural causes on May 31, 2020 at his home in New York," according to a message posted by his "office" on his Facebook page.

This man with a slender figure, with medium long hair turned white, had formed with his wife Jeanne-Claude one of the most publicized couples of contemporary art that they marked by their works in situ, requiring years of design and millions of dollars to last only a few days.

Inventor of a new artistic genre, "the interlining of space", Christo had wrapped the Pont-Neuf in Paris (1985) and the Berlin Reichstag (1995) in fabric.

"Christo lived his life fully, not only by imagining what seemed impossible but by realizing it. The work of Christo and Jeanne-Claude brought together people in shared experiences around the world, and their work continues in our hearts and our memories ", write his collaborators in their message.

For French Minister of Culture Franck Riester, "spectacular, the art of Christo and Jeanne-Claude marked our collective memory". "Capable of + revealing by hiding + the monuments, their creations have accompanied the history of our time," he tweeted.

Christo was an "enchanter," said Serge Lasvignes, president of the Center Pompidou in Paris. "He was also a magnificent person combining audacity, determination and a deep humanity".

The Pompidou was to inaugurate in March an exhibition dedicated to the artist and his wife and artistic partner Jeanne-Claude, who died in 2009, but it had to be postponed due to the epidemic of the coronavirus. It will finally be held from July 1, according to the Center Pompidou.

Born on June 13, 1935 in Gabrovo in Bulgaria, Christo fled in 1956 in a freight train from the Communist regime and Soviet realism taught at the Fine Arts in Sofia.

In 1958 he met his French wife, Jeanne-Claude Denat de Guillebon, in Paris.

Christo had taken up residence in New York and obtained American nationality.

His latest project in preparation, the packaging of the Arc de triomphe in Paris, which promised to be one of the most spectacular events of the September return, had been postponed by a year due to the uncertainties linked to the coronavirus. .

This achievement remains "on track" for the period from September 18 to October 3, 2021, specifies his entourage on Facebook.

© 2020 AFP