For sixteen days in the autumn of 2021 the Arc de Triomphe in Paris got new clothes.
Artists Christo and Jeanne-Claude had dreamed of wrapping the Arc de Triomphe. But sadly the couple died before their dream project came true. Nevertheless, the plan was fulfilled when in September 2021 25,000m² of recyclable polypropylene fabric in silvery blue, and 3,000m of red rope of the same fabric covered the entire Arc in a shimmering hug.
Christo left sufficient funding to fulfil his dream art installation some 60 years after he first had the idea to temporarily transform it. Around 1200 people worked to wrap the Arc and the sight didn’t please everyone. But Christo’s ethos when creating his monumental artworks was to enable people to see art in a different way, to change how we views objects and spaces. And he certainly succeeded.
Bulgarian-born Christo and his wife and collaborator Jeanne-Claude rented a small room with a view of the Arc de Triomphe in 1961. It was here that he first created wrapped sculptures.
Christo died in May 2020 aged 84 having meticulously worked out every last detail of the Arc de Triomphe project which was delayed from the previous year because of Coronavirus. Further delays were caused by a falcon known to nest there each spring. Throughout the sixteen days of the project, the nightly ceremony of the Unknown Soldier continued.
The artist’s posthumous draping of the Arc de Triomphe is nothing if not provocative.
Christo once said of his work: ‘Nobody can own this project, nobody can sell this work… all of these projects are about freedom’. For him art was alive and he felt that it must also die. For the Arc de Triomphe – it’s a wrap.