Shrink-wrapped Arc de Triomphe finally displays artist Christo’s vision

(Photo by Reuters)

Crowds stood admiring the Arc de Triomphe in Paris on Saturday (September 18) after it was draped in silvery blue, recyclable plastic wrapping as a tribute to late artist Christo.

Hundreds wandered around and underneath the Arc to marvel at the 50-meter high, 19th-century arch wrapped in 25,000 square meters of cladding.

Imagined decades ago in 1961 by the Bulgarian-born Christo, who died in 2020, and his wife and fellow artist Jeanne-Claude, who died in 2009, “L’Arc de Triomphe, Wrapped” was finally brought to life by Christo’s nephew, Vladimir Yavachev at a cost of about 14 million euros ($16.54 million).

“The intention behind it, it’s to make a work of art, and that work of art is the scream for freedom,” Yavachev told Reuters, adding that a “different sensuality” flows through the monument through the art installation.

Yavachev said the installation is a way to memorialize Christo’s legacy in Paris, who also covered Paris’s Ponf Neuf bridge in yellow cloth in 1985.

Christo, who spent part of his life in Paris and in New York, once rented a small room near the famed Champs-Elysees avenue after moving to Paris in 1958, when he experimented with wrapping discarded crates and barrels with fabric and rope, according to an official site about the artist.

The Arc de Triomphe project, set in one of Paris’s most visited monuments still allows tourists to enter the site and its panoramic terrace, also covered in fabric.

Italian tourist Nicolas di Raimondo, a big fan of Christo, came to the city on Saturday to see the work’s inauguration.

“It’s a great experience, full of people and people can touch the artwork of Christo,” di Raimondo said.

German tourist Isa Teloekin compared the installation, contrasted with the Parisian landscape and skies, to a painting by French artist Magritte.

“It was just outrageous to see, very nice,” she said.

The installation will be on view until October 3.


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