Her full name was Jeanne-Claude Denat de Guillebon. The daughter of a French military officer stationed in Casablanca, she was born there on June 13, 1935. That also happens to be the birth date of the Bulgarian artist Christo, whom Jeanne-Claude met in Paris in 1958. At the time, Christo was already making enigmatic wrapped artworks out of things like packages and oil drums. It was a gesture rooted in the Surrealist insight that it was possible to make familiar objects unfamiliar--and by that token strangely fascinating. The two would soon marry and form a creative partnership.

In 1964 the pair...

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