THE ARC DE TRIOMPHE, WRAPPED 1961 – 2021

L’Arc de Triomphe Hidden Behind the Christo’s Fabric and Rope!

by Dylan Lee

Arguably the most important art event this year is the wrapping of the Arc de Triomphe in Paris. Christo had the plans ready to wrap it for over 60 years but now finally some years after his death, it has been executed and it is a true tribute for one of the greatest artists from the last half century. It is a privilege to be able to witness and experience this momentous event of French art and culture in person while I am here on my exchange program in Paris. Arc de Triomphe, Wrapped, Paris, 1961-2021 has used 25,000 square meters of recyclable polypropylene fabric in silvery blue, and 3,000 meters of red rope of the same fabric.

Late Bulgarian-born artist Christo’s posthumous installation, Arc de Triomphe Wrapped, has drawn mixed reactions from tourists visiting the iconic monument in Paris. The installation, which was conceived by Christo and his late wife, Jeanne-Claude Denat in 1961, was unveiled by French President Emmanuel Macron on Thursday 17 September and will remain on display until 3 October. In 1961, three years after they met in Paris, Christo and Jeanne-Claude began imagining and creating temporary works of art in public spaces. In 1962-63, Christo made a photomontage of the Arc de Triomphe wrapped, seen from the Avenue Foch, then, in 1988, a collage, before working again and developing the project from 2017.

Explaining his vision for the installation, Christo had said in the past: “It will be like a living object which will come alive in the wind and reflect the light.” The couple was known for creating elaborate temporary installations by wrapping fabric around world famous monuments like Berlin’s Reichstag and Paris’ Pont Neuf bridge. The Arc de Triomphe, Wrapped was self-financed by Christo through the sale of his preparatory studies, drawings, collages of the project as well as scale models, works from the 60s to 80s and original lithographs dedicated to other subjects.

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