PARIS (AP) — The Arc de Triomphe has seen parades, protests and tourists galore, but never before has the war monument in Paris been wrapped in silver and blue recyclable polypropylene fabric. That’s about to happen next month in a posthumous art installation designed by artists Christo and Jeanne-Claude.
“Christo has wrapped museums, parliaments as in Germany, but a monument like this? Not really. This is the first time. This is the first monument of this importance and scale that he has done,” Vladimir Yavachev, the late collaborating couple’s nephew, told The Associated Press.
Preparations have already started on the Napoleon-era arch, where workers are covering statues to protect them from the wrapping.
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The idea for “L’Arc de Triomphe, Wrapped,” was formed in 1961, when Christo and Jeanne-Claude lived in Paris. Jeanne-Claude died in 2009, and in spite of Christo’s death in May 2020, the project carried on.
“He wanted to complete this project. He made us promise him that we will do it,” Yavachev told The Associated Press.
It was to be realized last fall, but the COVID-19 pandemic delayed the installation.
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The 14 million-euro ($16.4 million) project is being self-financed through the sale of Christo’s preparatory studies, drawings, scale models, and other pieces of work, Yavachev said.
Visitors to the foot of the Arc de Triomphe during the installation, scheduled for Sept. 18 to Oct. 3, will be able to touch the fabric, and those climbing to the top will step on it when they reach the roof terrace, as intended by the artists.
Born in Bulgaria in 1935, Christo Vladimirov Javacheff met Jeanne-Claude Denat de Guillebon, born in Morocco on the exact same day as him, in Paris in 1958.
The artists were known for elaborate, temporary creations that involved blanketing familiar public places with fabric, such as Berlin’s Reichstag and Paris’ Pont Neuf bridge, and creating giant site-specific installations, such as a series of 7,503 gates in New York City’s Central Park and the 24.5-mile “Running Fence” in California.
Yavachev plans on completing another one of his uncle and aunt’s unfinished projects: a 150-meter-tall (492 feet) pyramid-like mastaba in Abu Dhabi.
“We have the blueprints, we just have to do it,” he said.
Arno Pedram in Paris contributed reporting.