Arc de Triomphe Wrapped in Long-Awaited Christo Installation

July 20, 2021 by

In a posthumous tribute to the environmental artist Christo who died in 2020, approximately 150 workers began wrapping the Arc de Triomphe in Paris on Friday–the realization of an installation whose concept the artist conceived 60 years ago.

The 16-day L’Arc de Triomphe, Wrapped installation, which you can follow via live stream, will be unveiled on September 18 and remain on view until Sunday, October 3.

A long-time Paris resident, the Bulgarian-born Christo Vladimirov Javacheff had for decades, along with his wife and co-designer, Jeanne-Claude Denat de Guillebon, envisioned sheathing the city’s famous war memorial at the western end of the Champs-Elysees. In 1962, Christo made a photomontage of the Arc de Triomphe wrapped, then in 1988 created a few additional studies and in 2017 began actively developing this project. 60 years later, the duo’s vision will finally be fulfilled.

In coordination with the Pompidou museum, the French Centre des Monuments Nationaux and the Paris City Council, Christo’s nephew Vladimir Javacheff will oversee wrapping the famed monument in 25,000 meters (just over 27,000 yards) of recyclable silvery-blue polypropylene fabric shaped with 3,000 meters (about 3280 yards) of red rope.

Although during their lifetime Christo and Jeanne-Claude wrapped several important structures throughout the world– including Paris’s oldest bridge, the Pont Neuf, an 820-foot long section of the Aurelian Walls in Rome, and the German Reichstag–until now their Arc de Triomphe project never became a reality.

Using no public funds or sponsorships, the project will be financed by the estate of Christo V. Javacheff through the sale of 25 works on paper from the 60s to 80s including architectural plans, maps and photographs as well as scale models that document the project from concept to construction. Ranging in price from $150,000 to $2.5 million, the proceeds will benefit both the installation and the Christo and Jeanne-Claude Foundation. 

“It will be like a living object stimulated by the wind and reflecting the light,” Christo once said of the proposed project. “The folds will move and the monument’s surface will become sensual. People are going to want to touch the Arc de Triomphe.” 

All images via Christo and Jeanne-Claude Foundation.

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