Romanian born, Noche Crist was raised by a frail mother, Juliet, and by her eccentric aunt, Mamoutz. It was Mamoutz's husband who encouraged young Noche to paint and to write, and she would remain self-taught and fiercely original the whole of the rest of her long life.
Surviving the trauma of World War II, Noche divorced her first husband soon after meeting David Crist, a handsome American Air Force officer assigned to the 1945 Allied Control Commission in Bucharest. Davd had attended one of Noche's art shows. After buying one of her watercolors, he insisted on meeting the artist and the two quickly and lastingly fell in love. As her fiancée, he was able to arrange for her travel out of Bucharest to Washington, DC, just prior to the Communists taking over the Romanian government. They were married in 1947.
Noche Crist accompanied her husband on his military assignments to Hawaii and various European countries while continuing to develop her distinctive and highly sensual, artistic style. She exhibited her works in Hawaii, Frankfurt, Paris and elsewhere before the coupled moved permanently to Washington DC, in 1963. There, Noche co-founded Gallery 10 in 1974 – a gallery that became celebrated for promoting and showcasing new artists under her effervescent influence.
The couple attracted a lively circle of devoted friends, among them curator Vivienne Lassman, famed art collector Olga Hirschhorn, and artist Abigail Greenway Adams – all beauties with great senses of humor. David and Noche became renowned for their costumed dinner parties and mischievous sense of fun.
Noche Crist's last years were spent writing, drawing, and making small paintings at the home where she had had a studio for over 40 years. Her memoirs became the basis of two short theatrical productions, The Decadent Child and The Ladders of Hell at the Washington Project for the Arts. At age 95, Noche died peacefully at her home, surrounded by people who adored and admired her. She was buried next to her greatest fan, husband David Crist, at Arlington National Cemetery.