The Arc de Triomphe in France gets an artistic facelift

The installation “The Arc de Triomphe, Wrapped” will be one of Christo’s last projects (Credit: Benjamin Loyseau / Christo and Jeanne-Claude Foundation)

One of the most iconic the landmarks just received transformed into a work of art. From September 18 to October 3, 2021, the Arc de Triomphe in Paris, France, will be embellished with 25,000 square meters of shimmering silvery blue plastic cloth, held in place by 9,842 feet (3,000 meters) of red rope. The installation, nicknamed “The Arc de Triomphe, Wrapped”, is the original idea of the late artist duo Christo and Jeanne-Claude.

The artists first came up with the idea in 1961. However, the project was shelved because they didn’t think it would be approved. Over the years, the couple have become famous for their massive outdoor works of art, which often included packaging the monuments and natural.

Jeanne-Claude died in 2009. But Christo never forgot his dream of enshrining the Arc de Triomphe. The artist finally presented his creations to the French authorities in 2018 and immediately obtained their approval. The installation was initially planned for April 2020. But it was delayed – at the beginning for accommodate nesting kestrels – then because of COVID-19 pandemic. Sadly, Christo passed away in May 2020. But his nephew and the project director, Vladimir Yavachev, was determined To realize his uncle’s dream.

It took over 1,000 workers 12 weeks to complete the shrouded installation of the Arc de Triomphe (Photo credit: Benjamin Loyseau / Christo et Jeanne-Claude Foundation)

Drape the gigantic, 64 feet high (50 meters) and 148 feet wide (45 meters) limestone arch was no easy task. Anne Burghartz, a engineer about the project says CNN that they had to first determine how to make the artist’s dream a reality without compromising its design. Then there was the challenge to fix the fabric, so that it to balance in the broken but don’t be dragged along by it.

But more importantly, the artwork had to be completed without damaging the iconic landmark. The team bypassed the obstacle by hanging the fabric on specially designed scaffolding and wooden supports. The effort took the 1000 workers and climbers about 12 weeks and cost 14 million euros ($ 16.5 million). Like all of Christo and Jeanne-Claude’s projects, the soak the cost was covered by the sale of the couple’s property original drawings and works of art.

The Abu Dhabi Mastaba will be a larger version of the one installed in London (above) in 2018 (Credit: royalparks.org.uk)

If “L’Arc de Triomphe, Wrapped” is one of the last projects of Christo and Jeanne-Claude, it may not be their last. This honor may belong to a giant version of the London Mastaba – a temporary sculpture which was placed in Serpentine Lake in the UK from June 19 to September 9, 2018. The new interpretation of the Mastaba, designed by Christo in 1977, will be installed in the desert of Abu Dhabi. Made from 410,000 barrels of multicolored oil, it will be the largest sculpture in the world.

“It might take another five years; it might take another 10 years. I don’t know,” Yavachev said. “But I am confident that we’re going to do it. “

Resources: NPR.com, CNN.com, christojeanneclaude.net