Christo fulfills his latest dream posthumously: wraps the Arc de Triomphe in plastic

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In the early 1960s, the Bulgarian artist Christo Javacheff and his partner Jeanne Claude began to project what would become their great unfinished work: the ‘packaging’ of the Arc de Triomphe in Paris.

A project that was denied by the French authorities and that six decades later – and a few months before dying – was revalued and authorized by the city council and the National Monuments Center, in charge of the management of the national monuments of the French capital. Thus began some frantic preparations that would abruptly cease with the death of the artist at the end of May 2020.

Now, a team of 140 workers unfolds from this Sunday the fabric that will cover the monument, a maneuver that will end this Monday and that will open to the public between September 18 and October 3. The Arc de Triomphe will be enveloped with 25,000 square meters of recyclable polypropylene material and subject with 3,000 meters of rope the same type. Visitors who come in the next few days will be able to take a piece of the montage as a souvenir of the last ingenuity of the Bulgarian creator.

View of the installation of the work.

View of the installation of the work.


The person in charge of the installation is the artist’s own nephew, Vladimir Yavacheff, who speaks of this project as “the achievement of Christo’s dream”. In total, this assembly will cost fourteen million euros, an astronomical price that will be covered by the sale of sketches and drawings by the artists.

The auction price in Sotheby’s of the couple’s production reached new records at the beginning of the year, quadrupling the estimated starting price of their models and preparatory plans. A surprise for the art world given the ephemeral nature of the artist’s installations and the low price that these types of materials usually fetch at auction.

Workers taking down the canvases on the monument.

Workers taking down the canvases on the monument.


The artist has already carried out similar projects such as the one he did in the Berlin Bundestag in 1995, covering the entire German Parliament with similar material. In 1991, it installed thousands of gigantic umbrellas simultaneously in California (United States) and Ibaraki (Japan). An installation that had more than 3,100 giant parasols of 8.7 meters in diameter and 200 kilos.

The famous auction house will once again put out several of the projects of the Christo-Jeanne Claude couple, although none belonging to the project that now concerns the French capital. The intention of the artist couple always focused on maintaining a total independence of administrations for its facilities, fleeing from government aid that would pose a permanence of its artistic installations. In this way, with the sale of previous plans and sketches, they paid for the following works in which they embarked, ‘burning’ their production while proposing new projects.

The intention of the artist couple was to raise questions regarding the permanence of the monuments, their place in our day-to-day life and ideological and political imprint. Covered in cloth, the monument commissioned by Napoleon acquires a completely different meaning, while maintaining the integrity of the Eternal Flame, at the request of the French Veterans Associations.

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