christo wraps paris’ arc de triomphe in recyclable silvery blue fabric

Sep 13, 2021

christo’s dream of wrapping the arc de triomphe is slowly becoming a reality. since yesterday, the french capital has been enjoying the mounting of the 25,000 square meters of recyclable polypropylene fabric that will drape from the monument. said to be the greatest work of public art worldwide in 2021, ‘l’arc de triomphe, wrapped’ will be on view for 16 days this autumn, from september 18 until october 3, 2021.

‘until his last breath, christo worked tirelessly on this project, his last “temporary exhibition” as he liked to call it,’ simon shaw, vice chairman of the global fine arts division at sotheby’s, told designboom in an interview. ‘and these original works indeed open a window onto the magical imagination of the late artist, the joy and wonder he found in preparing his most ambitious installation.’

back in 2017, christo and jeanne-claude were awarded the social impact golden madonnina for the lake iseo installation at THE DESIGN PRIZE, which was initiated that year and curated by designboom with patronage city of milan.

in 1961, three years after christo met jeanne-claude, the couple began creating works of art in public spaces. one of their projects was to wrap a public building. at the time, christo, who was renting a small room near the arc de triomphe, made several studies of a project there, including, in 1962, a photomontage of the arc de triomphe wrapped. almost 60 years later, the project is being realized.

throughout the entire period when the artwork is on display as well as during its preparation, the space beneath the arc de triomphe where the holy flagstone lies and where since 1923 the eternal flame has burned in front of the tomb of the unknown soldier, will be fully maintained. as always, associations, charity workers and volunteers committed to the values of the french republic will take turns to ensure the continuity of souvenir and memory, and to proceed with daily ceremony of rekindling the flame and of paying homage to the unknown soldier with the appropriate solemnity.

as with all of christo’s projects, ‘l’arc de triomphe, wrapped’ will be entirely funded by the artist through the sale of his preparatory studies, drawings and collages of the project as well as scale models, works from the 1950s and 1960s and original lithographs on other subjects. it will receive no public or private funds.

during the presentation, sotheby’s paris will show ‘the final christo’, an exhibition of 25 original works, including imagery, juxtaposing maps, architectural plans, photographs and engineering drawings in pastel and paint, drawn in preparation for the wrapping. each work will be available for private sale, with proceeds to benefit both the upcoming project, and the christo & jeanne-claude foundation, established to safeguard the artists’ legacy for future generations.

’35 years after jeanne-claude and I wrapped the pont-neuf, I am eager to work in paris again to realize our project for the arc de triomphe,’ christo said in 2019. and even if he won’t see his dream come true, we will make sure to celebrate it.

project info:

name: l’arc de triomphe, wrapped

artist: christo and jeanne claude

location: arc de triomphe, paris

dates: september 18 – october 3, 2021

in collaboration with: centre georges pompidou and centre des monuments nationaux