Keeping it under wraps… If you have a trip to Paris this fall, you may be alarmed by the Arc de Triomphe’s new look: it will be completely wrapped up as part of a special environmental installation. Rest assured, though, that this iconic monument isn’t about to be shipped off, merely encased in the name of environmental art!
Read more about the project, Arc de Triomphe, Wrapped, and the famous artist couple behind it below.
The famous artist couple Christo Vladimirov Javacheff and Jeanne-Claude Denat de Guillebon (better known as Christo and Jeanne-Claude), left behind a legacy of impressive and controversial works of art, so vast they are often referred to as “environmental installations.” Be it building walls from barrels, installing thousands of umbrellas in California and Japan or wrapping entire monuments, their works have spanned continents over the last few decades.
Although the pair is sadly no longer with us, their work continues to live on. This year will see their art return to the town of their first exploits: Paris – in one of its largest iterations to date.
From the 18th of September until the 3rd of October, the world-renowned Arc de Triomphe will be completely wrapped in recyclable materials: nearly 300,000 square feet of silver-blue fabric tied down by two miles of red rope. In the vein of the Gates project in New York or the Reichstag of Berlin, Arc de Triomphe, Wrapped will be the first exhibition of its kind since Jeanne-Claude’s passing in 2009.
The project was initially conceived back in 1961, only three years after the couple started creating works of art in public spaces. Christo lived in Paris, close to the Arc de Triomphe, and was forever fascinated by the monument. He had made a photo montage and collage to illustrate his idea for an installation involving it, and for decades worked on convincing Parisian authorities to accept his proposal.
Sixty years later, after a final COVID-induced delay, the project is finally, quite literally, a wrap. As was customary with Christo and Jeanne-Claude’s projects, the massive work was entirely funded by their foundation (which profits from selling the materials and studies used for planning their exhibitions, such as drawings, collages and scale models from the 1950s and 1960s).
The Arc’s Eternal Flame, a monument to the slain soldiers of the First World War, will continue to burn as normal, its daily rekindling ceremony will be the same as always (although the veterans and volunteers who perform it may proceed with extra caution when approaching the Arc, Wrapped!).