L'Arc de Triomphe, Wrapped Honors the Legacy and Lifelong Dream of Christo and Jeanne-Claude
Over the weekend, one of Paris's most iconic landmarks, L'Arc de Triomphe, began to be wrapped in a silvery blue fabric by more than 100 workers. Sunday's unfolding of fabric from the top of the monument marks the beginning of the end for a project dreamed up by French artist Christo in 1961. The artist fell in love with the structure that was nearby his first home in the city and hoped to one day wrap it entirely in fabric. Fifty years later—and a year after his death—Christo's nephew, Vladimir Yavachev, is making his dream a reality.
L'Arc de Triomphe, Wrapped is expected to be completed and available for public viewing beginning September 18, with viewings available through October 3, as a temporary artwork. This project marks the completion of the final two posthumous public works of art from Christo and his wife and artistic partner, Jeanne-Claude. In accordance with his wishes, this project is being completed by his team in partnership with the Centre des Monuments Nationaux (CMN) and with the support of the Centre Pompidou and Villede Paris. Like all of Christo and Jeanne-Claude's projects, it will receive no public funding and has been entirely supported by sales from the couple's original artworks. And 30 years after the couple's Pont Neuf wrapping, this temporary artwork is a perfect homage to the couple's creative vision and desire to make art accessible for all.
“I began working with Christo and Jeanne-Claude in 1990, at the age of 17. I loved it so much that it became my life. I never wanted to do anything else,” said Vladimir Yavachev, project director for L’Arc de Triomphe, Wrapped in a press statement. “As Christo liked to say, ‘Our projects are alive,’ and today L’Arc de Triomphe is coming to life. Christo approved every visual aspect of this project, and in a way it is a memorial to the life and work Christo and Jeanne-Claude created together in Paris and across the world, which always exceeded what we believe to be possible."
Those looking to experience this fascinating work for themselves can begin visiting this weekend, where more than 300 welcome monitors will be waiting to greet and educate guests and also hand out free samples of the recyclable polypropylene fabric used to wrap the structure. Inside the monument, visitors can still tour L'Arc de Triomphe and discover more information on Christo and Jeanne-Claude as well as this project. There will be a preparatory model of the work along with a screen highlighting past projects.
"L'Arc de Triomphe, Wrapped" was submitted to the Centre des Monuments Nationaux in 2020 after Christo began developing the project in 2017. While the artist did not get to see his dream fully come to fruition, he was aware that it would finally be realized before his death on May 31 of that year. .
“It will be like a living object who will move in the wind and reflect the light," the artist said in 2020. "With its moving folds, the monument's surface will become sensual. People will want to touch the Arc de Triomphe."
In order to preserve the integrity of this historic monument, the Ministry of Culture teams will be monitoring the set up and dismantling of the fabric. The Eternal Flame, which sits in front of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, will continue to burn throughout the display and dismantling of "L'Arc de Triomphe, Wrapped," as the daily ceremony of rekindling the flame pays homage to soldiers who lost their lives fighting for France and to the Unknown Soldier.
Those interested in learning more can visit Christo and Jeanne-Claude's website, which is currently home to a livestream and timeline of "L'Arc de Triomphe, Wrapped." Those interested in visiting in-person can learn more on the Visitor Information page.
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