The Arc de Triomphe Wrapped Is Now Open for Public Display

The Arc de Triomphe Wrapped: A lifelong Dream Come True for Christo and Jeanne-Claude - Sheet1
The Arc de Triomphe Wrapped _©Benjamin Loyseau/ dezeen.com

The Arc de Triomphe wrapped is a temporary installation envisioned by late artists Christo and Jeanne-Claude. Thirty thousand square meters of silver and blue polypropylene cloth have been wrapped around the monument fastened with seven thousand meters of red ropes. The installation was a lifelong dream of the famous art duo. Both husband and wife, Christo Vladimirov Javacheff and Jeanne-Claude Denat de Guillebon made their names into the art industry by wrapping famous buildings and landscapes including the Pont Neuf in Paris and the Reichstag in Berlin. Jeanne-Claude passed away in 2009 while Christo breathed his last in 2020.

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The wrap of The Arc de Triomphe was first proposed in 1961 when Christo and Jeanne-Claude first went to Paris and fell in love with the monument, The Arc de Triomphe. He prepared a photo montage depicting the building wrapped, and a collage in 1962, while the formal work actually began in 2017. After Christo passed away his team took the initiative to complete his dream project and finished wrapping the monument of victory in September 2021. The installation was funded by Christo’s reserves and funds collected by selling preparatory drawings of the installation on Arc de Triomphe and other art pieces made by the famous artist. This temporary artwork is open to the public from 18th September 2021 to 3rd October 2021. The project has been realized in coordination with the Centre des Monuments Nationaux, the organization that manages the Arc de Triomphe and the City of Paris. 

The Arc de Triomphe Wrapped: A lifelong Dream Come True for Christo and Jeanne-Claude - Sheet2
The Arc de Triomphe Wrapped Proposal by Christo _© Wolfgang Volz / 2020 Christo and Jeanne-Claude Foundation

The 60-year long dream has now been fulfilled keeping in mind all the norms and regulations. The Eternal Flame, in front of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at the Arc de Triomphe, continues to burn throughout the process. The public display also follows all the covid regulations and the streets are temporarily made pedestrian during the days of the display. It is a fire show portraying the miracles accomplished by hard work and determination.

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The Art Duo’s Journey

Christo and Jeanne-Claude were always revolutionary artists, their installations were not an easy task. They liked to do things the hard way. Wrapping public buildings is a challenge without the support of government authorities. It was Jeanne-Claude who came up with a perspective of combining state authorities in their artworks to make the paperwork easy. They turned the odds they encountered while working into work itself. Several documentaries by Albert and David Maysles highlight their works and process. Their bizarre ideas and methods are demonstrated in films like the ‘Running Fence’, which showcases their quest with the California bureaucrats to convince the extremely sceptical audience to wrap the 24 miles of Pacific Coast in 2 million square feet of white nylon cloth. Another work of the couple is documented in the film called ‘The Gates’ which shows them thriving with the New York City authorities for permission to install in Central Park in 1979. They were denied permissions for over 26 years, while the exhibit lasted just two weeks.

The Arc de Triomphe Wrapped: A lifelong Dream Come True for Christo and Jeanne-Claude - Sheet3
The Arc de Triomphe Wrapped in Process_© Benjamin Loyseau/ dezeen.com

After a long and celebrated career of wrapping the world in their art, Christo formally proposed to wrap the Arc de Triomphe in 2017. The permissions took mere two years, but Christo passed away in May 2020. His death in 2020 concretized his team’s idea to fulfill his life-long dream. His nephew took charge from overcoming pandemic-related delays to all technical difficulties, all were supervised very enthusiastically by Vladimir Yavachev. 

The Art Marvel: A Tribute

Many critics defy Christo and Jeanne-Claude’s work as art marvels and the naysayers were against the wrapping of a monument. Who would imagine the 160 feet tall heritage building to be wrapped in cloth? Parisians’ resistance to the artwork connects to the continued grievances of the fire-blown heritage site, the Notre Dame. To many, it seemed a nonsensical sight when seen up close, but the brilliance of the engineering team has wrapped the building uptight with red ropes rubbing off the silver paint of the cloth. The installation looks like a frozen waterfall in the middle of the city. As much as some reviewers resisted the process, this artwork was more of a tribute to the artists’ bold works than just a peculiar idea. The news-making duo has always struggled for permissions and the conflicts created by their work, but this last one gathered public appreciation and support in the memory of the couple. 

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The Arc de Triomphe Wrapped _© dezeen.com

The installation has transformed Paris. The main streets of Paris are pedestrianized and we are seeing massive crowds flocking towards the installation even from the other primary streets. This car-free Paris has been a dream of many sociologists and urbanists. Selfie sticks are not allowed near the premises and people have to follow covid norms. Recordings are available for people who cannot visit the installation. This massive crowd work is going to be there for two weeks and the art piece will be taken down on 3rd October 2021 but the memory of this colossal event will stay with the Parisians forever.

References

Dezeen. (2021). Christo and Jeanne-Claude’s wrapped Arc de Triomphe captured near completion in Paris. [online] Available at: https://www.dezeen.com/2021/09/17/arc-de-triomphe-wrapped-christo-jeanne-claude-installation-paris/.

In Paris, the Wrapped Arc de Triomphe Is a Polarizing Package. (2021). Bloomberg.com. [online] 21 Sep. Available at: https://www.bloomberg.com/news/features/2021-09-21/wrapped-arc-de-triomphe-delights-divides-paris.

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Chappell, B. (2021). Here’s Why The Arc De Triomphe Was Just Wrapped In Fabric. NPR. [online] 17 Sep. Available at: https://www.npr.org/2021/09/17/1038287275/arc-de-triomphe-christo-jeanne-claude-wrapped.

Author

Aditi is a creative soul and a firm believer in procedural learning. She looks towards building a sustainable milieu by linking the built environment to the roots of India’s culture. She is an ardent reader and holds a keen interest in art, architecture and aesthetics.

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