Visitors to Paris were surprised on Sunday when strolling up the Champs-Élysées as dozens of workers began enveloping in a shimmering wrapper a posthumous installation by artist Christo at the Arc de Triomphe monument.
Workers were shuffling around the 50-metre-high, 19th-century arch setting up 25,000 square metres of silvery blue recyclable plastic wrapping, which will be on view between Sept. 18 and Oct. 3.
Imagined in 1961 by the late Bulgarian-born artist Christo, who died in 2020, and his wife and fellow artist Jeanne-Claude, who died in 2009, L’Arc de Triomphe, Wrappe was finally brought to life by Christo’s nephew, Vladimir Yavachev, at a cost of about 14 million euros ($20.9 million Cdn).
“The biggest challenge for me is that Christo is not here. I miss his enthusiasm, his criticisms, his energy and all of these things. That, for me, really is the biggest challenge,” Yavachev told Reuters.
WATCH | It’s a Christo wrap for the Arc de Triomphe in Paris:
Christo, who spent part of his life in Paris and New York, once rented a small room near the famed Champs-Élysées avenue after moving to Paris in 1958, when he experimented with wrapping discarded crates and barrels with fabric and rope, according to an official site about the artist.
Christo, whose full name is Christo Vladimirov Javacheff, was known for his larger-than-life installations. He wrapped up a stretch of coastline in Australia and the Reichstag parliament building in Berlin, and strung up a huge curtain in part of a canyon in Colorado.
He worked closely with Jeanne-Claude on the projects. The pair covered Paris’s Pont Neuf — the oldest standing bridge across the Seine river — in yellow cloth in 1985.
The Arc de Triomphe project, involving the most visited monument in Paris that looms over one end of the Champs-Élysées, will still allow tourists to visit the site and its panoramic terrace. The monument is also home to a tribute to the Unknown Soldier, in the form of a flame of remembrance that is rekindled every day.