France's Arc de Triomphe Gets A Temporary Artistic Makeover

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The "L' 'Arc de Triomphe, Wrapped" installation will be one of Christo's last projects (Credit: Benjamin Loyseau/ Christo and Jeanne-Claude Foundation)

One of the world's most iconic landmarks just got transformed into a work of art. From September 18 to October 3, 2021, the Arc de Triomphe in Paris, France, will be embellished with 25,000 square meters of shimmering silvery-blue plastic fabric, held in place by 9,842 feet (3,000 meters) of red rope. The installation, dubbed "L'Arc de Triomphe, Wrapped," is the brainchild of the late artist duo Christo and Jeanne-Claude.

The artists first came up with the idea in 1961. However, the project was set aside because they didn't think it would be approved. Over the years, the couple became famous for their massive outdoor artworks, which often included wrapping monuments and nature.

Jeanne-Claude passed away in 2009. But Christo never forgot his dream of encasing the Arc de Triomphe. The artist finally presented his designs to French officials in 2018 and was instantly given the okay. The installation was initially slated for April 2020. But it was delayed — at first to accommodate nesting kestrel falcons — and then due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Unfortunately, Christo died in May 2020. But his nephew and the project's director, Vladimir Yavachev, was determined to realize his uncle's dream.

It took over 1000 workers 12 weeks to complete the Arc de Triomphe wrapped installation (Credit: Benjamin Loyseau/ Christo and Jeanne-Claude Foundation)

Draping the gigantic, 64-foot-high (50 meter) and 148-foot-wide (45 meter) limestone arch was no easy task. Anne Burghartz, an engineer on the project told CNN that they had to first determine how to make the artist's dream a reality without compromising his design. Then there was the challenge of securing the fabric, such that it would sway in the breeze but not be dragged by it.

But most importantly, the artwork had to be completed without damaging the iconic landmark. The team got around the hurdle by hanging the fabric on specially-built wood scaffolding and brackets. The endeavor took the 1000 workers and climbers about 12 weeks and cost 14 million euros ($16.5 million). Like all of Christo's and Jeanne-Claude's projects, the steep cost was covered by the sale of the couple's original drawings and artworks.

The Abu Dhabi Mastaba will be a larger version of the one installed in London (above) in 2018 (Credit: royalparks.org.uk)

While "L'Arc de Triomphe, Wrapped" is one of Christo and Jeanne-Claude's last projects, it may not be their final one. That honor may belong to a giant version of The London Mastaba — a temporary sculpture that was placed in the UK's Serpentine Lake from June 19 to September 9, 2018. The new rendition of the Mastaba, which was designed by Christo in 1977, will be installed in the Abu Dhabi desert. Made using 410,000 multi-colored oil barrels, it will be the world's largest sculpture.

"It might take another five years; it might take another 10 years. I don't know," Yavachev said. "But I'm confident that we'll get it done."

Resources: NPR.com, CNN.com, christojeanneclaude.net

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45 Comments
  • hudivyminivu
    ryu1232 days
    Wow.The L,Arc de Triomphe, Wrapped is so picturesque.I hope COVID-19 ends soon so that I can visit this masterpiece.
    • taytayiscraycra
      Wow
      • hynibuhagebo
        so cool
        • cutesloth11
          OR SO COOL
          • hollygurl123456
            this article is cool beans
            • sharkbaithuhaha
              pretty rad
            • nox_fox1
              nox_fox115 days
              I love this. would love to see this. but with COVID thats not going to happen soon. LOL :3
              • hudivyminivu
                ryu1232 days
                I agree.The COVID-19 is horrendous and appalling.
              • sakura123456789
                I hate COVID-19 pandemic BUT i love this. Don't you dislike COVID-19?
                • sakura123456789
                  So cool right?
                  • lox
                    lox18 days
                    Love it