The Arc de Triomphe will receive Christo Wrap in September
A famous Parisian landmark, the Arc de Triomphe will be wrapped in silvery blue fabric and bright red rope this fall, thanks to the late installation artist Christo. The project, titled Arc de Triomphe, Wrapped, was originally scheduled to be held in the spring of 2020, but was postponed to September of the same year after environmental groups raised concerns about disturbance to birds that nest there; the new dates have been canceled due to the Covid-19 crisis.
Christo first envisioned the project, which will eventually involve 270,000 square feet of recyclable polypropylene fabric and nearly 10,000 feet of rope, in 1962, when he rented a room near the neoclassical structure, located in the western end of the Champs Elysées. That same year, he made several studies for the work, including a photomontage showing a presumed view of it; he returned to the concept in the 1970s and 1980s, creating additional studies. The work was approved in 2017 by the Center des Monuments Nationaux; the organization, which manages the Arc de Triomphe, collaborates with the Center Pompidou on its presentation.
Funding for the packaging, costing $ 16.9 million, was raised solely through the sale of preparatory drawings, studies and Christo’s collages of the work, as well as other works by the artist. Construction on the project, which is due September 18 through October 3, is scheduled to begin after Bastille Day and is expected to take three full months of 24-hour shifts.
Along with his wife, Jeanne-Claude (1935-2009), Christo was known for monumental exterior public works often characterized as flamboyant or scandalous and often with an ecological theme. Among the most famous of them are Running fence, 1972-1976, a 24.5 mile long zigzag white fabric wall erected in northern California; and Surrounded Islands, 1981-1983, which saw the couple circling eleven islands in Biscayne Bay, Florida with hot pink fabric. Similar works included their cladding of the Pont Neuf in Paris in 1985 and the Reichstag in Berlin in 1995. Triumphal arch will be the first of Christo’s works to be performed since his death in May 2020 in New York City at the age of eighty-four.