Skip to main content
Art

Paris's Pompidou reopens with exhibition dedicated to 'wrap' artist Christo

A display from the Christo and Jeanne-Claude Paris exhibition at the Pompidou Centre. The modern art museum will reopen on 1 July, after a three month Covid-19 lockdown
A display from the Christo and Jeanne-Claude Paris exhibition at the Pompidou Centre. The modern art museum will reopen on 1 July, after a three month Covid-19 lockdown AP - Thibault Camus

The Pompidou centre of modern art in Paris is to reopen after a three-month delay due to Covid-19 with an exhibition dedicated to the late artist Christo and his wife Jeanne-Claude. One of the art world's highest-profile couples, the pair are famous for wrapping up monuments in fabric such as Le Pont-Neuf in 1985 and the soon to be wrapped Arc de Triomphe on the Champs Elysées.

Advertising

The Pompidou Centre modern art museum in central Paris will reopen to the public on Wednesday with the exhibition Christo et Jeanne-Claude, Paris!, after a three month delay due to the Covid-19 lockdown.

It is dedicated to the period Christo spent in Paris with his wife Jeanne-Claude in the 1950s and 60s, and contains photographs, collages and models used to prepare the wrapping of the Pont-Neuf bridge in Paris in 1985.

A master of ephemeral art, Christo died one month ago, on 31 May in New York, at the age of 84, just missing out on seeing what his most recent project would have looked like – the wrapping up of the Arc de Triomphe in Paris, postponed until autumn 2021.

Christo, left, and his wife and partner Jeanne-Claude, participate in opening "The Gates" project in New York's Central Park in 2005.
Christo, left, and his wife and partner Jeanne-Claude, participate in opening "The Gates" project in New York's Central Park in 2005. AP - Richard Drew

Born in 1935 in Bulgaria, Christo Vladimiroff Javacheff fled the Communist regime and arrived in Paris in 1958, staying until 1964. During this time he met Jeanne-Claude Denat de Guillebon, the daughter of one of General de Gaulle's close aides.

"The exhibtion is called Christo et Jeanne-Claude, Paris, because these two names are inextricably linked," the curator of the exhibition Sophie Duplaix told AFP.

Not only were the pair very much in love, she explains, Jeanne-Claude's talent with public relations, in particular in political circles, helped Christo get his works into the open space.

The Pont-Neuf project started at early as 1975, notes Duplaix, and it took ten years of negotiating to get it approved.

Notably, former president Jacques Chirac, who was mayor of Paris from 1977, said he was open to the idea, but was worried it would make waves with his voters, an aspect smoothed over in the end by Jeanne-Claude's connections in de Gaullist circles.

In the end, the Pont-Neuf was wrapped up for 15 days (22 September to 7 October 1985).

The Pont-Neuf, oldest bridge in Paris, was wrapped in 40,000 square meters of sandstone colored shiny nylon cloth by artist Christo in 1985.
The Pont-Neuf, oldest bridge in Paris, was wrapped in 40,000 square meters of sandstone colored shiny nylon cloth by artist Christo in 1985. ASSOCIATED PRESS - Herve Merliac

It was indeed a sight for sore eyes – with its 40,000 square metres of beige cloth, kilometres of ropes, with several divers and climbers to put it into place.

"In the beginning, Christo worked on folded surfaces, made rigid with lacquer. Then progressively, this work evolved with the wrapping of objects. He observed the way the fabric with strings pulled across it created forceful lines," says Sophie Duplaix.

"What he did on a small scale, he wanted to do the same in a public place, it was his way to express his political point of view."

A critique of consumerism

The wrapping up of items, she says was a way of criticising western society's obsession with consumerism.

"Christo loved expressing his convictions in his work," says Serge Lasvignes, President of the Pompidou Centre.

"Surrounded Islands" by artist Christo, in the process of being installed in Miami, Florida in 1983.
"Surrounded Islands" by artist Christo, in the process of being installed in Miami, Florida in 1983. AP - Kathy Willens

"He liked to provoke reactions from people. Sometimes it seemed he was disappointed when things were too easy."

Over his career, Christo wrapped up the Reichstag in Germany, Central Park gates in New York, the Floating Piers on Lake Iseo in Italy and the channel islands in Miami, Florida.

Until 19 October 2020. Reservation online.

Daily newsletterReceive essential international news every morning

Page not found

The content you requested does not exist or is not available anymore.