Jeanne Claude and Cristo

On Women’s Pay Equality Day, let’s also remember all the work women do that they don’t get paid for at all.  In addition to making only 79 cents for every $1.00 that men make, many many women are confidant and contributor to work that is acknowledged only as their husband’s.

When The Gates of Central Park opened to great fanfare in 2005, newspaper accounts  attributed the installation to Cristo, an installation artist of some renown, known for draping huge pieces of cloth across various landmarks. They were quite the phenomenon that year; everyone in New York City wanted to stroll through The Gates. The Gates’ website describes how “the 7,503 gates with their free-hanging saffron colored fabric panels seemed like a golden river appearing and disappearing through the bare branches of the trees.”
What is interesting to me about the website, is that the installation is now attributed to the artist Jeanne Claude, as well as Cristo. Her artistry was most often overlooked twenty years ago. The only artist mentioned in early newspaper accounts was Cristo. But after many feminists complained, Jeanne Claude, Cristo’s wife and an artist in her own right, was acknowledged an equal partner in this installation, as well as many other famous works, such as the Running Fence (1976). Some art historians even point to Jeanne Claude as the leading spark of the duo, that Cristo was a mediocre portrait painter until he met Jeanne Claude. Whatever the truth of it is, the recognition is too late for Jeanne Claude to enjoy; she passed away before the attribution was extended to her. But her name will be there for the future. Little girls with artistic aspirations will learn her name and be inspired.

Cristo and Jeanne Claude.

Or perhaps, Jeanne Claude and Cristo