Christo’s Next Project: Wrapping the Arc de Triomphe


With his wife and artistic partner, Jeanne-Claude, the artist Christo has wrapped the Reichstag in Berlin and monuments in Milan — even a coast in Australia. Now, for the first time since her death in 2009, he is returning to their signature style.

On Wednesday, Christo announced that he had received permission from the French government and the country’s Center for National Monuments to wrap the Arc de Triomphe, one of the most famous landmarks in Paris, next year from April 6 through 19.

“Jeanne-Claude was so close to me all my life,” Christo, 83, said in a telephone interview. “Of course there is some irony and sadness that she is not here. But I am eager to go ahead with my life and do my work.”

The project, “L’Arc de Triomphe, Wrapped (Project for Paris, Place de l’Étoile-Charles de Gaulle),” will involve covering the arch with a silvery blue recyclable polypropylene fabric — nearly 270,000 square feet of it — held together with about 23,000 feet of red rope.

It will coincide with an exhibition at the Pompidou Center, planned for March 18 through June 15, that looks back on Jeanne-Claude and Christo’s early years in Paris. Born on the same day in 1935, they met there in 1958, when Christo moved to the city after his studies in Bulgaria. They lived and worked in Paris until 1964, then settled in New York.

The Pompidou exhibition will also include drawings, documentation and more related to another of their famous works, “The Pont-Neuf Wrapped, Project for Paris, 1975-85.”

France’s approval of the Arc de Triomphe project came relatively swiftly. Christo said that, although he had created studies to wrap the monument when he lived near it, planning began in earnest only within the past year. Compare that bureaucratic timing with the Reichstag wrapping, which was under development for about 20 years, or “The Gates” in Central Park, which were conceived in 1979 but not erected until 2005.

Christo pushed for wrapping the Arc de Triomphe, he said, because he was “eager to do something beyond the exhibition.”

Although the Center for National Monuments helped with the project, it will not receive public money. Christo said the wrapping would be financed through the sale of his preparatory studies, drawings, collages and models for it.

From The New York Times, “Christo’s Next Project: Wrapping the Arc de Triomphe” by Joshua Barone. April 3, 2019.