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Wrapping Paris’ Arc de Triomphe

September 20, 2019

Plans for Christo’s “L’Arc de Triomphe, Wrapped (Project for Paris) Place de l’Étoile– Charles de Gaulle.” Image courtesy of The New York Times

Earlier this year, the legendary Christo received permissions to wrap Paris’ Arc de Triomphe. Previously, the artist wrapped the Reichstag in Berlin and monuments in Milan… he even “wrapped” a coast in Australia. However, since 2009, the artist has laid low with his signature style.

It was ten years ago that Christo lost his wife and artistic partner, Jeanne-Claude. About proceeding with this project without his partner, he said, “Jeanne-Claude was so close to me all my life. Of course there is some irony and sadness that she is not here. But I am eager to go ahead with my life and do my work.”

“The Pont Neuf Wrapped”. Paris, 1975-85. Image courtesy of Christo and Jeanne-Claude, photographed by Wolfgang Volz.



L’Arc de Triomphe, Wrapped (Project for Paris, Place de L’Etoile- Charles de Gaulle”) will feature the arch covered with 270,000 feet of silvery, blue recyclable polypropylene fabric. The fabric will be held together by 23,000 feet of red rope.

The project will “open” on April 6th of 2020, coinciding with the Pompidou Center’s exhibition which looks back on Christo and Jeanne- Claude’s early years in Paris. A couple of interesting facts… the pair share the exact same birthday in the exact same year, 1935. They met 23 years later in Paris where they both lived and worked until they moved to New York City in 1964.

The “walkway” underneath the arch, including the Tomb of the Unknown Soilder, will remain accessible during the time the artwork is in place. Image courtesy of Dezeen

The architectural artwork for the project was first presented sixty years ago. With so many years to think about it, Christo knows exactly how he is going to approach this monumental undertaking.

Christo illustrated the anticipated result in a series of drawings and photographs overlaid with pencil, wax crayon and enamel paint. It is through the sale of these drawings that Christo plans to finance the project. It has been confirmed that no public money will be used for Christo’s installation.

The Reichstag wrapping in Berlin, 1995. Image courtesy of Rock Cafe

The approval for this project was swift and planning started within the past year. Sometimes bureaucratic timing can cause long and arduous delays… but the French government was quick to “sign on the dotted line.” In comparison the Reichstag project in Germany was under development for twenty years and “The Gates” in New York City endured eighteen years from conception to completion.


Christo and Jeanne- Claude at The Gates in Central Park, 2005. Image courtesy of BBC

Christo has always maintained that he does not have a political agenda or that he is trying to create controversy. To his critics he has said, “I am an artist, and I have to have courage . . . Do you know that I don’t have any artworks that exist? They all go away when they’re finished. Only the preparatory drawings, and collages are left, giving my works an almost legendary character. I think it takes much greater courage to create things to be gone than to create things that will remain. “