Arc de Triomphe to be wrapped in fabric for posthumous artwork

The Arc de Triomphe in Paris is set to be wrapped in silver and blue fabric next month as part of a posthumous art installation designed by the late artists known as Christo and Jeanne-Claude.

The idea for the installation was formed in 1961, when the collaborating couple – known for temporary creations that involve blanketing familiar public places with fabric – lived in Paris.

Jeanne-Claude died in 2009, while Christo died in May 2020, but the project has continued.

France Arc de Triomphe
A video outlines how the artwork will look (AP)

It was to be realised last autumn, but the Covid-19 pandemic delayed the installation. The late collaborating artists’ nephew Vladimir Yavachev said Christo made his family promise to complete the work.

A sale of drawings, models and other art is financing the 14.4 million dollar (£10.4 million) piece, with the installation scheduled for September 18 to October 3.

Mr Yavachev said: “Christo has wrapped museums, parliaments, as in Germany – but a monument like this? Not really.

Vladimir Yavachev
Vladimir Yavachev, a nephew of the late artist Christo, is leading the ‘L’Arc de Triomphe, Wrapped’ project (AP)

“This is the first time. This is the first monument of this importance and scale that he has done.”

Preparations have already started on the Napoleonic era arch, where workers are covering statues to protect them from the recyclable polypropylene wrapping.

The Arc de Triomphe
A sculpture on the Arc de Triomphe is protected during preparations (AP)

“He wanted to complete this project. He made us promise him that we will do it,” Mr Yavachev told The Associated Press.

Visitors to the foot of the Arc de Triomphe during the “L’Arc de Triomphe, Wrapped” installation will be able to touch the fabric, and those climbing to the top will step on it when they reach the roof terrace, as intended by the artists.

Born in Bulgaria in 1935, Christo Vladimirov Javacheff met Jeanne-Claude Denat de Guillebon – who was born in Morocco on the exact same day as him – in Paris in 1958.

Arc de Triomphe
The Paris landmark will be covered with fabric in silvery blue and red ropes (AP)

The artists were known for elaborate, temporary creations that involved blanketing familiar public places with fabric, such as Berlin’s Reichstag and Paris’ Pont Neuf bridge, and creating giant site-specific installations, such as a series of 7,503 gates in New York City’s Central Park and the 24.5-mile “Running Fence” in California.

Mr Yavachev plans to complete another one of his uncle and aunt’s unfinished projects: a 492ft pyramid-like mastaba in Abu Dhabi.

“We have the blueprints, we just have to do it,” he said.