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France. The Arc de Triomphe of Paris was wrapped. In the posthumous project Christo, the lifelong dream of the wrapping artist was realized. Urbanauth was for you on the spot in Paris and has looked at the wrapped Arc de Triomphe!

Wrapped Arc de Triomphe in Paris, multi-lane traffic circle shrouded monument, sightseeing, urban culture, public art
The wrapped Arc de Triomphe by Christo and Jeanne-Claude (Foto: Urbanauth / VGO / 2021)

The Arc de Triomphe in Paris: About the monument

Feared by drivers, loved by tourists. In the middle of a huge, multi-lane traffic circle stands the Arc de Triomphe.

The Arc de Triomphe is a monument in Paris with its history. In 1806 by Napoleon the 1st began construction and was completed 30 years later. The architect Jean-Francois Chalgrin conceived this masterpiece of about 50 meters high, 45 meters long and 22 meters wide. But at the time of his death, it only stretched to five meters. In the meantime, the construction site had to be put on hold. Finally, the triumphal arch was completed in 1836. In the urbanistic concerns of Haussmann, the Arc de Triomphe became a central place to which some of the most iconic boulevards of Paris lead.

Originally conceived as a victory gate for the battle of Austerlitz won, the Arc de Triomphe is now used to commemorate the victory in World War 1. In 1920, the “Tomb of the Unknown Soldier” was inaugurated. From 1923, the “Flamme du Souvenir” (“Flame of Remembrance”) is lit there. The Arc de Triomphe is an emblem of French national pride. During the riots in 2018 of the Gilets Jaunes movement, there was structural damage to the monument.

Christo’s posthumous project: the veiled Arc de Triomphe

Christo who died on May 31, 2020 in his apartment in New York City, had a last dream with his wife Jeanne-Claude. To wrap the Arc de Triomphe of Paris. In the posthumous project, the artist’s wish was realized from September 18 to October 3, 2021. For Christo and Jeanne-Claude, it was always important to make their art free and accessible to all. They have succeeded in this with their posthumous project.

The Arc de Triomphe was wrapped in 25,000 m² of recyclable blue-silver polypropylene fabric. The costs of the project were financed exclusively by self-financing and without public funds. Among other things, works by Christo were sold for this purpose. The total cost was 14 million euros and about 1000 people were involved in the implementation.

The driving force behind the implementation of the posthumous project is Vladimir Yavachev. For him
the heart of Christos and Jeanne-Claude’s work, one that is the “pure expression of their freedom“. The project was realized with the help of the City of Paris and the Centre Pompidou.

He described Christo’s conception of the shrouded Arc de Triomphe as follows:It will be like a living object that moves in the wind and reflects the light. The folds will move and the surface of the monument will become sensual. People will want to touch the Arc de Triomphe.

For reigning mayor Anne Hidalgo, the work is a tribute to the creative process and artistic freedom to transcend the traditional boundaries of sculpture and architecture to create a living work of art that is accessible to everyone.

Work and creation of Christo and Jeanne-Claude

The artist Christo was born in 1935 in Gabrovo, Bulgaria. His life is characterized by travel. Thus, his path brought him to Prague, Vienna, Geneva, Paris and finally New York, among other places. In Paris he met his wife Jeanne-Claude Denat de Guillebon. Deceased in 2009, she played an important role in the life and work of Christo.

The veiling of objects, as a form of urban art. Christo’s projects wanted to cover the monumental. Even if only for a limited time, but the large had to escape the view. He realized his first installation with his wife Jeanne-Claude in 1961 in Cologne (“Dockside Packages” & “Stacked Oil Barrels”). One of his first works to attract attention was the “Wall of Oil Barrels – The iron curtain” in Rue Visconti in Paris (1961-1962). After unsuccessful attempts to obtain permission from the authorities, the project was carried out illegally. Using oil barrels, Christo erects a barricade on a street. Below is a list of the most important works of Christo and Jeanne-Claude:

  • “Wrapped Coast” near Sydney (1968-1969)
  • Alley Curtain” in Colorado (1970–1972)
  • Running Fence” in California (1972–1976)
  • Surrounded Islands” in Miami (1980–1983)
  • The Pont Neuf Wrapped” in Paris (1975–1985)
  • The Umbrellas” in Japan and California (1984–1991)
  • Wrapped Reichstag” in Berlin (1972–1995)
  • The Gates” in the Central-Park of New York City (1979–2005)
  • The Floating Piers” in Italien Iseo-See (2014–2016)
  • The London Mastaba” at the “Sepertinne” of London (2016–2018)

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