Christo and Jeanne-Claude’s "L’Arc de Triomphe Wrapped" Is Finally a RealityAn experience that is a once-in-a-lifetime event.
Last month, Christo and Jeanne-Claude‘s “L’Arc de Triomphe Wrapped” finally began installing at the heart of Champs-Élysées. It’s as though the city of Paris and the entire world could smile to see a project that was only a number of sketches finally become a reality.
It’s understandable that some may think, ‘how is wrapping something in polypropylene art?’ But what really lies behind the veil of fabric and rope is a seminal event — a nomadic experience that seemingly only happens once and vanishes. “You see a giant empty plain. Then a nomadic tribe arrives, builds an entire town of fabric, lives there a few weeks, and one day they fold all their fabric tents and are gone. And what remains? A vast empty plain. The nomads are gone,” said Jeanne-Claude.
Despite the short shelf life of each of their grandiose projects, which have included wrapping an ancient Roman wall built by Marcus Aurelius and the Reichstag in Berlin, is that there is a gentle disturbance that takes place. An imprint that the art historian, Lorenza Giovanelli, said makes it “impossible to look with the same eyes at the places these projects once inhabited, because something happened there, even if the plain lies empty.”
Their work contains a certain duality — conceptual, yet immensely physical — abstract, but utterly tangible. “What is captured is a beauty that is subject to the perpetual becoming of life,” stated Giovanelli. One to which “will become sensual,” as stated by Christo shortly before his death in 2020. “People will want to touch the Arc de Triomphe.”
It is tragic that both Christo and Jeanne-Claude passed away before seeing their dream project unfold. The two never took commissions for their projects, nor did they gather sponsorships or public funding for “L’Arc de Triomphe Wrapped” — but fully financed the project with the artwork sold in their lives. So what lies behind Christo and Jeanne-Claude’s art, like the many nomadic tribes around the world, is an essence of freedom.
Witness history as L’Arc de Triomphe is wrapped in 270,000 square feet of aluminum-coated blue polypropylene fabric and red rope from September 18 to October 3.