Work is due to start on Friday to wrap the Arc de Triomphe in Paris in silver-blue fabric in posthumous homage to artist Christo who had dreamed of the project for decades.
Of Bulgarian origin, Christo, a longtime Parisian, imagined the project to cover the imposing war memorial at the top of the Champs-Elysées while renting an apartment nearby in the 1960s.
But despite the completion of other major public works during his lifetime, notably the enveloping of the oldest bridge in Paris in 1985 and the German parliament in 1995, the Arc de Triomphe project never materialized before its completion. died in 2020.
The realization of his vision – and that of his co-designer and wife, Jean-Claude – will be overseen by his nephew Vladimir Javacheff with the support of the Pompidou Museum and the French authorities.
He will see the monument wrapped in more than 25,000 square meters (270,000 square feet) of fabric.
“It will be like a living object stimulated by the wind and reflecting light. The folds will move and the surface of the monument will become sensual, ”Christo said of his idea, for which he left sketches and photo montages.
“People are going to want to touch the Arc de Triomphe,” he said.
The work that will begin on Friday will be the preparation of the scaffolding and protective equipment that will be erected to prevent damage to the masonry and carvings during the packing process.
# photo1The monument, which was built by Napoleon to commemorate fallen soldiers during his military campaigns, was recently restored after being disfigured by anti-government “yellow vests” rioters in December 2018.
– Round the clock –
After a break for the conclusion of the Tour de France cycling race which passes under the arch on July 18, packaging work will begin in earnest during the rest of July and August in order to reach a target date for the inauguration on September 18.
“Three teams will work tirelessly to finish it,” Javacheff said.
In addition to the polypropylene fabric, the project will use 3,000 meters of red rope, all of which can be recycled.
Born June 13, 1935 in Bulgaria, Christo left his country in 1957, living in several nations before arriving in Paris, where he met his future wife Jean-Claude.
He died of natural causes at his New York home in May of last year.
The Arc de Triomphe, with the flame from the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier still lit, will be accessible throughout the 16-day exhibition.
This will be Christo’s second project in Paris, after the Pont Neuf was wrapped in 1985.
The program known as “The Arc de Triomphe, Wrapped” is also financed by the sale of studies, drawings and collages by Christo.
© 2021 AFP