The Arc de Triomphe de Paris wrapped in silver, blue and red: Christo’s ephemeral posthumous masterpiece

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Christo’s ambitious monumental project for Paris, L’Arc de Triomphe Wrapped, is underway under the late artist’s instructions and will be unveiled to the public for 16 days next month, from September 18 to October 3.

Three teams work 24 hours a day on the preparation of the iconic Parisian monument of the 19th century, 50 meters high.

Currently, the Arch is surrounded by cranes, scaffolding and protective gear to ensure the condition of the masonry and carvings during the wrapping process, requiring 270,000 square feet of recyclable silver polypropylene fabric. and blue and nearly 10,000 feet of red rope.

Six decades in the making

The wrap around the world-renowned neoclassical monument is a tribute to the late artist couple Christo and Jeanne-Claude, who dreamed of the project for decades.

“It will be like a living object stimulated by the wind and reflecting light,” as Christo described his dream project. “The folds will move and the surface of the monument will become sensual. People are going to want to touch the Arc de Triomphe.

Christo and his wife Jeanne-Claude specialized in the creation of this kind of spectacular, monumental and ephemeral artistic installations in public spaces. The Arc de Triomphe Wrapped will become a reality 60 years after its conception by the artists.

“I never thought it would ever happen,” Christo said in one of his last interviews while in Covid-19 isolation shortly before his death from natural causes at the age 84 in May 2020. “But I want you to know that a lot of these projects can be built without me. Everything is already written.

Jeanne-Claude died in 2009.

According to the story, Project Christo first made a photomontage of the Arc de Triomphe wrapped in 1962-63 when he and his French wife, Jeanne-Claude rented a small room near the monument. He made a collage of it in 1988.

The idea was relaunched in 2017 and was approved by the Center des monuments nationaux, the French government institution that manages the Arc de Triomphe, with the aim of inaugurating it in 2020.

MORE FORBESChristo will wrap the Arc de Triomphe in Paris in silver-blue

A posthumous tribute

In 2020, the Center Pompidou, partner of the project, presented the exhibition Christo and Jeanne-Claude. Paris !, which traces the couple’s years in Paris from 1958 to 1964, as well as the story of “Le Pont Neuf Wrapped”, another of their Parisian projects in 1985.

“We can do this project without him today because they have already worked out all the visual and artistic aspects of it,” said Christo’s nephew, Vladimir Javacheff. The Guardian. “This project is 100% the project of Christo and Jeanne-Claude. It was his wish and we are in the process of realizing his vision.

A life of packaging

Christo and Jeanne-Claude began to wrap monuments around the world in the 1960s, most notably the Wrapped Coast in Sydney in 1968-69, the Valley Curtain in Colorado in 1970-72, the Biscayne Bay Surrounded Islands in Miami in 1980 -83, the Reichstag ensemble in Berlin in 1995, the Central Park Gates in 2005, the Floating Piers of Lake Iseo, Italy, in 2014-16, the London Mastaba and Hyde Park in London, 2016-2018.

“Christo was born on June 13, 1935 in Gabrovo, Bulgaria,” according to the foundation’s biography. “He left in 1956, first in Prague, Czechoslovakia, then fled to Vienna, Austria, in 1957, and Geneva, Switzerland. In 1958, Christo went to Paris, where he met Jeanne-Claude Denat de Guillebon, not only his wife but a life partner in the creation of monumental environmental works of art.

As expected by the artists, the 14 million euros installation of L‘Arc de Triomphe wrapped was entirely self-financed by the Christo Foundation thanks to the sale of its preparatory studies, drawings and collages of the project, original models, works from the 50s and 60s and original lithographs devoted to other subjects.


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