It took almost 60 years for Christo and Jeanne-Claude‘s dream of wrapping the Arc de Triomphe to become concrete. Imagined in 1961, “L’Arc de Triomphe wrapped” is no longer a project but a reality! Since September 18 and until October 3, 2021, the Arc de Triomphe can be observed entirely wrapped.
A project imagined by Christo and Jeanne-Claude in 1961
In 1961, Christo and Jeanne-Claude met in Paris three years ago. They lived near the Place de l’Etoile and saw the Arc de Triomphe every day, so it was only natural that the project of wrapping it should arise in their minds. They made a first photomontage in 1962-63 and a collage in 1988.
In addition to the time needed to obtain the authorizations (a step that was an integral part of the work for the artists), the crazy figures of this project make it possible to understand that such a long time was necessary to bring it to life. More than 30 companies and 1,000 people contributed to its realization, including 140 workers and rope makers; it also required 25,000 m2 of recyclable fabric and 3,000 meters of rope. In addition, the integrity of the monument had to be preserved, particularly the groups of sculptures, which were entirely protected beforehand, and also to allow the daily ceremonies of the rekindling of the Flame as well as the tributes to the Unknown Soldier to proceed smoothly. So many precautions that slowed down the installation of the work.
Unfortunately, both artists left us before they could see their dream come true: Jeanne-Claude in 2009 and Christo in 2020. Vladimir Yavachev, Christo’s nephew, supervised the project, making sure to respect the artists’ instructions and plans.
It is also important to note that this installation, like all of Christo and Jeanne-Claude’s projects, does not benefit from any public funding since it is self-financed by the sale of original works by the artists (collages, models, preparatory drawings, lithographs…).
The Arc de Triomphe wrapped in photos
Here are some photographs of the Arc de Triomphe packed, in the course of installation then completed. As you can see, the work deserves to be observed at several moments to see it differently according to the light.
“It will be like a living object that will come alive in the wind and reflect the light. The folds will move, the surface of the monument will become sensual. People will want to touch the Arc de Triomphe.”
It is possible to approach the Arc for free, day and night, and even more so on weekends since the Place de l’étoile is made pedestrian for the occasion. Access to the interior of the Arc and to the terrace is, however, subject to a fee – €16 at the single rate.
All around the Arc, many mediators are at your disposal to answer your questions. If you ask, they can also offer you a piece of the fabric.
If you talk with some passers-by, you will see that this work makes a lot of talk: there are those who love and those who hate but these exchanges have the advantage to put the culture and the monument in the center of the debates! Often little observed by Parisians who are used to see it in the landscape, the Arc de Triomphe attracts again the eyes and the curious: on the roof of the Arc, a visitor confided to me that he climbed for the first time on the monument on this occasion. And if you really don’t like it, don’t worry: on October 3rd you will find the Arc as you have always known it 😉
To learn more about this installation as well as the work of Christo and Jeanne-Claude, I invite you to watch the documentary that Arte dedicated to them:
Arc de Triomphe
Place Charles de Gaulle
Opening hours :
Access to the plateau (around the Arc) every day from 6am to 1am
Access to the monument (inside and terrace) from 10am to 11pm
Single rate 16 €.
Free for children under 7 years old