In one of his final interviews before his death in May last year, the Bulgarian-born artist Christo said he was “flabbergasted” that he had finally been given permission to wrap one of most recognisable buildings in Paris, the Arc de Triomphe. This past weekend, workers began installing the work, draping silver and blue fabric around the monument and realising an ambitious project that was more than half-a-century in the making.
The idea to cover the building in fabric was first hatched by Christo and his partner and collaborator Jeanne-Claude 60 years ago. The couple first came up with the plan in 1961 while living in a small flat near the monument, but it was not until 2019, a decade after Jeanne-Claude’s death, that Christo was finally able to announce that the work would go ahead.
In the years between the conception of the work and its realisation, the duo created some of the most memorable large-scale installations in the world, from wrapping Berlin’s Reichstag in silvery fabric to creating giant bright orange floating piers in Lake Iseo, visited by a staggering 1.2 million people.
L'Arc de Triomphe, Wrapped was originally scheduled for April 2020 but was postponed due to the pandemic. Christo died in May 2020. Christo and Jeanne-Claude’s vision is finally coming to fruition this week, with work starting on wrapping the monument in 25,000 sq. m of silver and blue fabric, fastened with 3km of red rope. A new book by Taschen delves into the history and planning of the work. Below are some highlights from behind the scenes.
Photographs from the book:
• Christo and Jeanne-Claude. L’Arc de Triomphe, Wrapped (Advance Edition), Christo and Jeanne-Claude, Wolfgang Volz, Lorenza Giovanelli, Jonathan William Henery, Taschen, 96pp, £20 (pb)