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Christo’s next big “wrapping” project is 60 years in the making

The L’Arc de Triomphe, which has suffered vandalism in recent months during the Yellow Vest protests, will be wrapped in shiny fabric in a project conceived by Christo and his posthumous partner Jeanne-Claude.

Back in 1962, Bulgarian and French-American artists Christo and Jeanne-Claude–now world famous for their large-scale fabric “wrapping” of architectural monuments and natural landscapes–wanted to wrap L’Arc de Triomphe. Though their vision for a grand piece of public art in Paris was far from controversial, it was a turbulent time in France and, with De Gaulle in power, the project never happened. One year from now, nearly 60 years after they first proposed it, their vision will materialize at last.

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At the time, Christo and Jean-Claude were living together as both a young married couple and an artistic partnership in a rented room near the famous monument, which is a symbol of France and the home of an eternal flame dedicated to the unknown soldier. It was then when Christo made the photomontages and drawings you can see in this article which, in addition to some scale models, will be auctioned to pay for the installation in its entirety.

Christo, The Arc de Triumph (Project for Paris, Place de l’Etoile – Charles de Gaulle) Wrapped, Drawing 2018. [Photo: André Grossmann/© 2019 Christo]

Over the next year, Christo–sadly, Jean-Claude died in 2009–will use 270,000 square feet of a blueish silver polypropylene fabric which will be held together with 22,965 feet of red rope. Talking about the project in a press release, Christo said that he is “eager” to work in Paris again on the 35th anniversary of one of their most iconic artworks: The Pont-Neuf Wrapped, covering the oldest bridge in Paris. That artwork, according to Christo, was the last time they had an idea for a wrapping.

The installation will also coincide with a retrospective of the couple’s years in the French capital from 1958 to 1964. If you are lucky enough to go to Paris in the coming months, it’s now running at the modern art museum Centre Georges Pompidou until June 15, 2020. Sadly, L’Arc de Triomphe Wrapped will only last two weeks, from April 6 to April 2020. Perhaps the city should propose a titanium wrap–that would shield it from future Yellow Vest attacks.

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About the author

Jesus Diaz founded the new Sploid for Gawker Media after seven years working at Gizmodo, where he helmed the lost-in-a-bar iPhone 4 story. He's a creative director, screenwriter, and producer at The Magic Sauce and a contributing writer at Fast Company.

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