Art expert: Paris, the posthumous triumph of Christo

It is the last temporary installation of Christo and Jeanne-Claude. The Arc de Triomphe, wrapped in 25,000 m² of bluish-gray fabric and surrounded by red ropes, was visible until October 3 a It was a stone's throw from Place de l'Etoile, rue Quentin-Bauchart, that Christo, a young art student in Sofia who fled communist Bulgaria, settled in March 1958, upon his arrival in France. From the skylight of his maid's room, he glimpses the Arc de Triomphe, which looms above the rooftops of Paris, which have always fascinated him. During this same year 1958, the artist met his future wife, Jeanne-Claude, born like him on June 13, 1935, and with whom he lived a fusional love. In 1961, they began to design and create temporary works for public spaces together. Christo then imagines packaging the Arc de Triomphe. "In 1962, I carried out a few studies, including a photomontage of the Arc de Triomphe packaged as seen from Avenue Foch. I was very young and never imagined that I would ever be able to do it. It was a dream," emphasized Christo. This fall, a dream that will take nearly sixty years to come true, in the absence of the artists, Christo having died in May 2020, and Jeanne-Claude in 2009 already. Green light from the Elysée The project resurfaced in 2017, three years before the great Christo and Jeanne-Claude exhibition scheduled at the Center Pompidou for 2020. The idea was to pair the event with the packaging of a great Parisian monument. Christo then opts for the Arc de Triomphe. After two years of lobbying at the Elysée Palace led by Bernard Blistène, director of the National Museum of Modern Art, and Serge Lavisgnes, president of the Center Pompidou - relayed and supported by Philippe Bélaval, president of the Center des Monuments Nationaux -, the three men win. In January 2019, Emmanuel Macron gave the green light to the realization of the project. A quick decision-making process when compared to that of other large "packages" signed by the couple. For example, it took ten years before the Pont Neuf bridge saw the light of day in 1985, Yoan Valat / EPA Living in New York City since the mid-1960s, Christo imagined all of his monumental projects - a red curtain hanging in the rocky mountains of Colorado in 1972, yellow walkways floating on the waters of Lake Iseo in Lombardy in 2016, etc. - from his Manhattan studio. At the start of 2020, the artist could already see himself there: "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." After Christo's disappearance, his nephew, Vladimir Yavachev, takes charge of the coordination of the construction site for the work. A budget of 14 million euros Wrapping up a historic monument 50 meters in height, 45 in length, and 22 in width, planted at the meeting point of 12 avenues and which welcomes 1.7 million annual visitors, is no easy task. Two months of assembly were necessary, from mid-July to mid-September. Before deploying the monumental fabric strips, each weighing more than a ton, with the support of a team of 140 workers, including 95 rope access technicians, it was necessary to fix metal cages to protect the sculptures and the edges of the monument. A thousand people in total will participate in the realization of the work on behalf of thirty companies, including companies specializing in work at height, engineering and design firms, and engineering and safety design offices. The budget? Fourteen million euros entirely self-financed by the Estate of Christo V. Javacheff thanks to the sale of original works by the artist (drawings, collages, and preparatory photomontages), underlines the press release. "By packaging the Arc de Triomphe, we are going to renew the way we look at this historical monument that we all know but that we no longer look so much. Its monumentality will be underlined, and its main lines and the structures of its architecture will be sublimated", enthuses Laure Martin, the president of the "Arc de Triomphe" project. "Sinister symbol" Expensive moments of wonder are criticized on social networks. Some, not excited, mock a "sinister symbol", others "a form of contemporary art aimed above all at the spectacular". The objective of Christo, an artist of excess, was above all to create moments of surprise and wonder. In a column published in Le Monde of September 11, the architect Carlo Ratti invited him to abandon "the aesthetics of high-waste packaging". Read in Le Temps, article by Eric Tariant Video of the wrapping itself

Art expert: Paris, the posthumous triumph of Christo

It is the last temporary installation of Christo and Jeanne-Claude. The Arc de Triomphe, wrapped in 25,000 m² of bluish-gray fabric and...