After multiple delays, a Christo project that will wrap Paris’s Arc de Triomphe in blue fabric is officially set to be unveiled in September.
The Bulgarian-born artist as known for producing large-scale public art installations with his wife Jeanne-Claude, who died in 2009. The two are most recognized for monumental projects that involved covering historic landmarks in various materials like fabric and plastic. It is the first major Christo project realized since his death in 2020.
Originally conceived in 1962, the plan for the current project L’Arc de Triomphe, Wrapped was revived during a 2017 Christo exhibition. The same year, Paris city officials and the Centre des monuments nationaux, which oversees public monuments, approved the proposal for the project. The €14 million ($16.9 million) needed to realize the work has been raised through sales of the duo’s personal archive of studies and prints.
The project involves wrapping the Champs-Élysées landmark with 25,000 square meters of metallic blue polypropylene fabric using 3,000 meters of red rope. Construction is set to begin after the French holiday on July 14. It will take 12 weeks for a crew working 24 hours a day to complete it by September 18. The city will begin to deinstall the piece on October 3, in the run-up to Paris’s Armistice Day ceremonies.
L’Arc de Triomphe, Wrapped is not the biggest Christo piece ever created, though it is certainly among his most ambitious works. With Jeanne-Claude, Christo also wrapped the Reichstag in Berlin in the mid-1990s and Paris’s Pont Neuf bridge in 1985. In 2018, Christo created the London Mastaba, a pyramid-like structure comprising 7,500 oil barrels that were set afloat in London’s Hyde Park Serpentine lake.
After an initial delay following concerns among activists that the work would displace birds that nest on the monument, L’Arc de Triomphe, Wrapped was scheduled to be installed last year, to coincide with a Christo exhibition at the Centre Pompidou. The work was then postponed because of the pandemic.
Anne Hidalgo, the mayor of Paris, said in a statement, “More than a year after Christo’s death, Paris is continuing the work of this great artist. It is an opportunity to say ‘thank you’ to him and to defend our attachment to contemporary creation.”