L’Arc de Triomphe, Wrapped, Paris, September 2021 – love and romance!
A love affair and a love of Paris: the creative union of Christo and Jeanne-Claude brought a dream to reality.
Bulgarian-born artist Christo (1935-2020) died on 31 May last year, but his partner Moroccan-born Jeanne-Claude (1935-) and her installation team continued their plans to wrap the Arc de Triomphe in Paris.
Their “L’Arc de Triomphe, Wrapped” installation will be on view for 16 days from 18 September to 3 October 2021.
The assembly took place from 15 July to 17 September 2021, and the disassembly will occur from 4 October to 10 November 2021.
The Arch is wrapped with 25,000 square metres of silvery-blue recyclable polypropylene fabric and 3,000 metres of red rope.
In 1961, three years after they met in Paris, Christo and Jeanne-Claude began imagining and creating temporary works of art in public spaces. In 1962-63, Christo made a photomontage of the Arc de Triomphe wrapped, seen from the Avenue Foch. In 1988, Christo produced a collage of his plan, before developing the project from 2017. Almost 60 years later, the project is now a reality.
Christo in 2020 said it was important to acknowledge their entire artworks from the Sixties to the present time as a true collaboration between himself and Jeanne-Claude. Together, not separate.
The project was submitted to the ‘Centre des monuments nationaux’ by the Centre Pompidou and is supported by the Paris City Council. In 2020, the Centre Pompidou presented an exhibition called “Christo and Jeanne-Claude. Paris!” which retraced the couple’s years in Paris from 1958 to 1964. The Centre Pompidou also presented their story, from inception to installation, 1975 to 1885, of the bridge project, “The Pont Neuf, Wrapped.”
I visited the Arc de Triomphe during the assembly phase on 16 September, as well as the first weekend of the presentation phase on 19 September 2021.
The public reception was mixed, mainly in awe of the spectacle. Some said it was an inappropriate time to celebrate such an extravagant and expensive artwork during a pandemic and economic uncertainty for many French citizens. Christo and Jeanne-Claude financed the project themselves, although the Paris City Council managed the security and road closures. Some said it was just what Paris needed: a celebration of persistence, determination, creativity, light, and love.