8 June 2020

‘He left with a pencil in his pocket’

Neda Neynska

As a student at the National Academy of Arts in Sofia in the 1950s, Christo was confined to the canons of socialist realism and classical studies of form. There wasn’t a way to say or show anything beyond what had to be said and shown. In the summer, art students were sent away to the countryside on ‘beautifying missions’ along the route of the Orient Express, arranging machinery and bales of hay, doing large-scale industrial-themed drawings on the facades of factories, and erecting neat fences, so tourists could look out onto curated scenes of socialist life. This artifice was his first brush with environmental art and Nouveau réalisme.