It’s a wrap! Arc de Triomphe is cloaked in fabric for posthumous Christo installation

September 16, 2021

Parisians were surprised on Sunday, September 12, to see more than 100 workers at the Arc de Triomphe monument—beginning to wrap the iconic landmark in a shimmering material, in an installation planned to be a posthumous homage to the artist Christo, reports Reuters.

L’Arc de Triomphe, Wrapped” is expected to be completed and available for public viewing from September 18 through October 3, according to coverage by Veranda. When complete, the 50-meter high (55-yard), 19th century arch will diisplay 25,000 square meters (2,690,977 square feet) of silvery blue, recyclable plastic wrapping.

This project marks the culmination of the final two posthumous public works of art from Christo and his wife and artistic partner, Jeanne-Claude. In accordance with his wishes, the installation is being completed by his team, in partnership with the Centre des monuments nationaux (CMN); and with the support of the Centre Pompidou and Ville de Paris.

Like all of Christo and Jeanne-Claude’s projects, it will receive no public funding and has been entirely supported by sales from the couple’s original works of art. And 30 years after the couple’s Pont Neuf wrapping, this temporary artwork represents an homage to the couple’s creative vision and desire to make art accessible for all.

Imagined decades ago in 1961 by the late Bulgarian-born artist and his wife, both of whom died in 2009, “L’Arc de Triomphe, Wrapped” was finally brought to life by Christo’s nephew, Vladimir Yavatchev at a cost of about $16.54 million.

“The biggest challenge for me is that Christo is not here. I miss his enthusiasm, his criticisms, his energy and all of these things. That, for me, really is the biggest challenge,” Yavatchev told Reuters.

Christo, who spent part of his life in Paris and part in New York, once rented a small room near the famed Champs-Elysees avenue after moving to Paris in 1958, when he experimented with wrapping discarded crates and barrels with fabric and rope, according to an official site about the artist.

Christo, whose full name was Christo Javacheff, was known for his larger-than-life installations. He wrapped up a stretch of coastline in Australia and the Reichstag parliament building in Berlin, and strung up a huge curtain in part of a canyon in Colorado. He worked closely with Jeanne-Claude on the projects.

The pair covered Paris’s Pont Neuf bridge in yellow cloth in 1985.

The Arc de Triomphe project, involving the most visited monument in Paris–which looms over one end of the Champs-Elysees—will still allow tourists to visit the site and its panoramic terrace. The monument is also home to a tribute to the Unknown Soldier, in the form of a flame of remembrance that is rekindled every day.

Research contact: @Reuters

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