L’ Arc de Triomphe Wrapped, Christo’s enormous colossal project for Paris, is now in the works and will be revealed to the public for 16 days next month, from September 18 to October 3.
Three teams are working around the clock to prepare the iconic 19th century Parisian monument, which stands 50 meters tall.
During the wrapping operation, which needs 270,000 square feet of recyclable silver-and-blue polypropylene fabric and almost 10,000 feet of red rope, the Arch is now encircled by cranes, scaffolding, and protective equipment to guarantee the preservation of the masonry and sculptures.
It has been six decades in the making
The encirclement of the internationally renowned neoclassical monument is a homage to the late artist-couple Christo and Jeanne-Claude, who dreamt about the project for decades.
As Christo characterized his ideal project, “it will be like a living object stimulated by the wind and reflecting the light.” “The folds will move, and the surface of the monument will become more sensual. The Arc de Triomphe will entice visitors to touch it.”
Christo and his wife Jeanne-Claude were known for producing large-scale, massive, and ephemeral art works in public places. The Wrapped Arc de Triomphe will be realized 60 years after the creators first imagined it.
Christo stated in one of his last interviews while under Covid-19 isolation not long before his death from natural causes at the age of 84 in May 2020, “I never thought it would ever happen.” “However, I want you to know that many of these projects can be completed without my participation. Everything has been written already.”
In 2009, Jeanne-Claude passed away.
According to the project’s history, Christo created the first photomontage of the Arc de Triomphe. Jeanne-Claude and his French wife, Jeanne-Claude, were renting a tiny room near the monument in 1962-63. In 1988, he created a collage of it.
The plan was resurrected in 2017 and authorized by the Centre des Monuments Nationaux, the French government agency in charge of the Arc de Triomph, with a 2020 opening date in mind.
A posthumous remembrance
The exhibition Christo and Jeanne-Claude. Paris!, which retraced the couple’s years in Paris from 1958 to 1964, as well as the narrative of “The Pont Neuf Wrapped,” another of their Parisian undertakings in 1985, was exhibited in 2020 by the Centre Pompidou, a project partner.
Christo’s nephew Vladimir Javacheff told The Guardian, “We can do this project without him today because they already drew up every visual and artistic aspect of it.” “This project is entirely the work of Christo and Jeanne-Claude. It was his desire, and we are just now bringing his vision to life.”
Wrapping a living
In the 1960s, Christo and Jeanne-Claude began wrapping monuments all over the world, including 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 entire Reichstag in Berlin in 1995, the Central Park Gates in 2005, the Floating Piers in Lake Iseo, Italy in 2014-16, and the London Mastaba and Hyde Park in London.
According to the foundation’s biography, “Christo was born on June 13, 1935 in Gabrovo, Bulgaria.” “He fled to Prague, Czechoslovakia, in 1956, and then to Vienna, Austria, in 1957, and Geneva, Switzerland, in 1958. Christo traveled to Paris in 1958, when he met Jeanne-Claude Denat de Guillebon, who became not just his wife but also his life collaborator in creating enormous environmental works of art.”
The €14 million cost of installation of L’ Arc de Triomphe Wrapped was entirely self-financed by Christo’s Foundation, as planned by the artists, thanks to the sale of preparatory studies, drawings and collages for the project, original models, works from the 1950s and 1960s, and original lithographs dedicated to other subjects.
Thanks to Jane Levere at Forbes whose reporting provided the original basis for this story.