Paris’ Arc de Triomphe was transformed this week into a spectacular wrapped monument, the fulfilment of a lifelong dream from the late artist Christo.
The Bulgarian artist known for his jaw-dropping public art installations passed away in June 2022 at the age of 84. His breathtaking wrapped buildings – which included the German Reichstag building in 1995 – were a significant part of his artistic portfolio.
Christo sadly died before he could finish the Arc de Triomphe project, which has now been finished and unveiled in Paris on 18 September 2021. The iconic monument is wrapped in shimmering fabric and tied together with red rope. The colours are a subtle nod to the French flag.
Christo began planning the Arc de Triomphe project almost 60 years ago.
“All the design was done. Every rope, every fold, every pleat, is exactly, exactly and precisely the way Christo designed it. It will be his baby. We’re just finishing it for him,” Jonathan Henery told CBS News, one of the people involved in finishing the project. The Arc de Triomphe artwork will be in place for 16 days.
Christo, who collaborated with his wife Jeanne-Claude, was famous for his highly ambitious artworks of monumental scales.
“Christo lived his life to the fullest, not only dreaming up what seemed impossible but realizing it. Christo and Jeanne-Claude’s artwork brought people together in shared experiences across the globe, and their work lives on in our hearts and memories,” read a statement from his office when he passed.
Born in Bulgaria in 1935, Christo left his home country in 1957, travelling to Prague, Czechoslovakia, Austria and Switzerland. He met his wife Jeanne-Claude Denat de Guillebon in Paris in 1958, and went on to create numerous works with her. Jeanne-Claude passed away in 2009 and Christo lived in New York up until his death.
“From early wrapped objects to monumental outdoor projects, Christo and Jeanne-Claude’s artwork transcended the traditional bounds of painting, sculpture and architecture,” the statement continues.
“In a 1958 letter Christo wrote, ‘Beauty, science and art will always triumph.’ We hold those words closely today.”
Together with his partner Jeanne-Claude, Christo’s artwork pushed the boundaries of creativity, construction and scale. See below for some of their most iconic works.
Wrapped Reichstag, Germany
In 1995, Christo and Jeanne-Claude pulled off an incredible artistic feat, wrapping the entire German Reichstag building in polypropylene fabric.
The Floating Piers, Italy
In 2016, Christo created an orange floating pier on Lake Iseo in Italy. The massive installation consisted of 70,000 square metres of fabric and 226,000 high-density polyethene cubes, forming a walkable surface between Sulzano, Monte Isola and the island of San Paolo.
The Gates, New York City
Christo and Jeanne-Claude’s project, ‘The Gates’, saw New York’s Central Park transformed with orange panels of nylon fabric, covering 37 km of pathways in the park. The exhibit ran for two weeks in 2005.
The London Mastaba, UK
Situated on the Serpentine in London’s Hyde Park, Christ’s piece ‘The London Mastaba’ was a floating sculpture and the artist’s first major public work in the UK. 7,506 stacked barrels made up the sculpture, with the sides and top painted red, white, blue, red and mauve.