News Register for our weekly news digest here.

Christo with a drawing of the wrapped Arc de Triomphe. Photo: Wolfgang Volz © 2019 Christo and Jeanne-Claude Foundation.
Christo with a drawing of the wrapped Arc de Triomphe. Photo: Wolfgang Volz © 2019 Christo and Jeanne-Claude Foundation.

Arc de Triomphe to Receive Christo Wrap in September

Famed Parisian landmark the Arc de Triomphe will be swathed in silvery-blue fabric and bright red rope this fall, courtesy of the late installation artist Christo. The project, titled Arc de Triomphe, Wrapped, was originally intended to be staged in spring of 2020 but was put off to September of that year after environmental groups raised concerns about disturbances to birds nesting there; the new dates were scrapped owing to the Covid-19 crisis.

Christo first envisioned the project, which will ultimately involve 270,000 square feet of recyclable polypropylene fabric and nearly 10,000 feet of rope, in 1962, when he was renting a room near the Neoclassical structure, which stands at the western end of the Champs Elysées. That same year, he made several studies for the work, including a photomontage showing a presumed view of it; he would return to the concept in the 1970s and ’80s, creating additional studies. The work was approved in 2017 by the Centre des Monuments Nationaux; the organization, which manages the Arc de Triomphe, is collaborating with the Centre Pompidou on its presentation.

Funding for the wrapping, the cost of which is $16.9 million, was raised solely through the sale of Christo’s preparatory drawings, studies, and collages of the work, as well as that of other works by the artist. Construction on the project, which is to be on view September 18–October 3, is to begin following Bastille Day, and is expected to take three full months of round-the-clock shifts to complete.

With his wife, Jeanne-Claude (1935–2009), Christo was known for monumental outdoor public works often characterized as flamboyant or outrageous and frequently ecological in theme. Among the best-known of these are Running Fence, 1972–76, a 24.5-mile-long zigzagging white fabric wall erected in Northern California; and Surrounded Islands, 1981–83, which saw the pair encircle eleven islands in Florida’s Biscayne Bay with bright pink fabric. Similar works include their wrapping of Paris’s Pont Neuf in 1985, and Berlin’s Reichstag in 1995. Arc de Triomphe will be the first of Christo’s works to be realized since his death in May 2020 in New York at the age of eighty-four.