L'Arc de Triomphe, Wrapped

John Hill
24. September 2021
Christo and Jeanne-Claude: L'Arc de Triomphe, Wrapped, Paris, 1961-2021. (Photo: Wolfgang Volz © 2021 Christo and Jeanne-Claude Foundation)

L'Arc de Triomphe, Wrapped is a temporary artwork by the late artists Christo and Jeanne-Claude that is on display at Place de l'Étoile in Paris for 16 days, until October 3, 2021. 

The idea to wrap the iconic French monument dates back to 1962, not long after the couple met in Paris. Although early collages are crude, those done a couple decades later are eerily close to the final product that opened on September 18. The sale of preparatory studies, drawings, and collages of the project, along with other artworks by Christo, completely financed the artwork, which was carried out in partnership with the Centre des Monuments Nationaux. While other temporary projects, such as The Floating Piers (2016) and The London Mastaba (2018), were realized after the death of Jeanne-Claude in 2009, L'Arc de Triomphe, Wrapped is the first artwork by the famous duo to follow Christo's death last year

The structural concept for L'Arc de Triomphe, Wrapped was developed by schlaich bergermann partner, who writes on their website about securing "the silvery blue, recyclable polypropylene fabric and the red ropes" against wind loads via "a substructure of steel trusses and a ring of pre-stressed steel cables." Furthermore, "as requested by the monument preservation authorities, as few permanent changes as possible, such as drilling holes," were made to the monument; this was accomplished through a digital model as well as a 1:2 mock-up built in a Parisian suburb.

Below is a reverse-chronological tour — from completion to inception — of L'Arc de Triomphe, Wrapped, an artwork nearly 60 years in the making, with captions courtesy of the Christo and Jeanne-Claude Foundation.

Christo and Jeanne-Claude: L'Arc de Triomphe, Wrapped, Paris, 1961-2021. (Photo: Wolfgang Volz © 2021 Christo and Jeanne-Claude Foundation)
Christo and Jeanne-Claude: L'Arc de Triomphe, Wrapped, Paris, 1961-2021. (Photo: Wolfgang Volz © 2021 Christo and Jeanne-Claude Foundation)
Christo and Jeanne-Claude: L'Arc de Triomphe, Wrapped, Paris, 1961-2021. (Photo: Wolfgang Volz © 2021 Christo and Jeanne-Claude Foundation)
Christo and Jeanne-Claude: L'Arc de Triomphe, Wrapped, Paris, 1961-2021. (Photo: Lubri © 2021 Christo and Jeanne-Claude Foundation)
Ropes are being installed to secure and contour the fabric on the Arc de Triomphe, Paris, September 14, 2021. (Photo: Benjamin Loyseau © 2021 Christo and Jeanne-Claude Foundation)
Ropes are being installed to secure and contour the fabric on the Arc de Triomphe, Paris, September 13, 2021. (Photo: Lubri © 2021 Christo and Jeanne-Claude Foundation)
Fabric panels are being unfurled in front of the outer walls of the Arc de Triomphe, Paris, September 12, 2021. (Photo: Wolfgang Volz © 2021 Christo and Jeanne-Claude Foundation)
Fabric panels are being installed underneath the small vaults for L'Arc de Triomphe, Wrapped, Paris, August 25, 2021. (Photo: Wolfgang Volz © 2021 Christo and Jeanne-Claude Foundation)
To protect the monument's ornamentation and to provide anchorage for the fabric that goes under the vaults, steel structures are being installed for L'Arc de Triomphe, Wrapped, Paris, August 10, 2021. (Photo: Wolfgang Volz © 2021 Christo and Jeanne-Claude Foundation)
To protect the four sculptures at the base of the monument, steel cages are being installed in front of the pillars for L'Arc de Triomphe, Wrapped, Paris, July 20, 2021. (Photo: Wolfgang Volz © 2021 Christo and Jeanne-Claude Foundation)
At Geo – Die Luftwerker, a company in Lübeck, Germany, 25,000 square meters of recyclable polypropylene fabric are sewn into panels for L'Arc de Triomphe, Wrapped, Lübeck, July 2020. (Photo: Wolfgang Volz © 2020 Christo and Jeanne-Claude Foundation)
Christo in his studio with a preparatory drawing for L'Arc de Triomphe, Wrapped, New York City, September 20, 2019. (Photo: Wolfgang Volz © 2019 Christo and Jeanne-Claude Foundation)
Christo, Prof. Maik Schlaich, and their teams review engineering plans for the substructure of L'Arc de Triomphe, Wrapped at the headquarters of schlaich bergermann partner, Berlin, March 26, 2019. (Photo: Wolfgang Volz © 2019 Christo and Jeanne-Claude Foundation)
Christo: Arc de Triumphe, Wrapped (Project for Paris). Collage, 1988. Pencil, fabric, twine, pastel, charcoal, wax crayon, map, and Photostat, 71 x 56 cm (28 x 22 in) (Private collection. Photo: André Grossmann © 1988 Christo and Jeanne-Claude Foundation)
Christo: Wrapped Public Building (Project for Arc de Triomphe, Paris). Photomontage, 1962–1963, 25.2 x 70.8 cm (9⅞ x 27⅞ in) (Property of the Estate of Christo V. Javacheff. Photo: Shunk-Kender © 1963 Christo and Jeanne-Claude Foundation and J. Paul Getty Trust)

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