Arc de Triomphe

Triomphe of the twill: Christo's final wrap explores Paris's art of archness

Христо мечтал осуществить проект с 1961 года.
Христо мечтал осуществить проект с 1961 года. AFP - THOMAS SAMSON

It's art. And it will be a load of sheet. Around 25,000 square metres of the stuff - polypropylene fabric in silvery blue - will be wrapped around the Arc de Triomphe and on public display from next Saturday nearly 60 years after the idea was dreamt up by the Bulgarian-born artist Christo. 

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While living in Paris between 1958 and 1964, Christo and his wife and fellow artist Jeanne-Claude, made a photomontage of the Arc de Triomphe wrapped, seen from the Avenue Foch.

In 1988, a collage was created and the project was in development from 2017 until his death in May 2020 at the age of 84.

L’Arc de Triomphe, Wrapped will be finally unfurled by Christo’s nephew, Vladimir Yavatchev.

Work has been underway on the 14-million euro creation since mid-July. The 16-day display, which incorporates 3,000 meters of red rope, will then take more than a month to dismantle.

Challenge

“The biggest challenge for me is that Christo is not here," Yavatchev told Reuters news agency. "I miss his enthusiasm, his criticisms, his energy and all of these things. That, for me, really is the biggest challenge.”

Christo, after moving to Paris in 1958, once rented a small room near the Champs-Elysées.

He went on to become synonymous with outsized installations such as wrapping up a stretch of coastline in Australia and the Reichstag parliament building in Berlin.

There was also a huge curtain strung up in part of a canyon in Colorado in the United States.

In 2020, the Centre Pompidou staged the exhibition Christo and Jeanne-Claude. Paris! which retraced the artists' lives in the city in the early 1960's before they decamped to New York.

It also highlighted the decade long journey that led to the wrapping of the Pont Neuf in Paris in yellow cloth in 1985. 

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