Christo and Jeanne-Claude in Paris: The Arc de Triomphe Wrapped

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Christo and Jeanne-Claude in Paris: The Arc de Triomphe Wrapped
Did you hear about the project to wrap the Arc de Triomphe? Can you imagine something so dramatic and grandiose? The idea was originally conceived in 1962 by Christo and Jeanne-Claude, the world-famous artists behind “The Gates” in New York City’s Central Park, “The Floating Piers” in Italy and “The Pont-Neuf Wrapped” in Paris. The legendary Parisian monument, commissioned by Napoleon in 1806, will be wrapped in 25,000 square meters of recyclable polypropylene fabric in silvery blue along with 7,000 meters of red rope. Initially planned for Fall 2020, this ephemeral exhibition has had to be postponed for a year because of the Covid-19 pandemic. New dates will be Saturday, September 18 to Sunday, October 3, 2021. Christo – L’Arc de Triomphe, Wrapped (Project for Paris, Place de l’Etoile – Charles de Gaulle) Sadly Christo passed away on May 31 this year. He and his wife Jeanne-Claude— who both shared the exact birthday of June 13, 1935— had first met in Paris at the age of 23. So began a lifetime of creative collaborations that was as inspiring as it was revolutionary, their works deemed some of the most spectacular of the 20th and 21st centuries. (Jeanne-Claude was deceased in 2009.) Christo in Paris 1990. Directors: Albert Maysles, David Maysles, Deborah Dickson and Susan Froemke 16 mm, color, sound 58 minutes © Maysles Films, Inc. Even if we have to wait another year to see the Arc de Triomphe project finally reach fruition, there’s another way to pay homage to these wonderful artists. Currently showing at the Centre Pompidou, the exhibition “Christo and Jeanne-Claude. Paris!” focuses on the artwork the duo created in the City of Light. In fact, Christo himself worked with Sophie Duplaix, chief curator of contemporary collections at the Musée national d’art moderne, to put together the show prior to his death. A section is devoted to “The Pont-Neuf Wrapped,” and it’s fascinating to see the architectural drawings of the bridge shimmering in its golden wrapping. (It was the sale of these preparatory collages and drawings that always financed the artists’ large-scale projects.) But the exhibit highlight is the documentary, Christo in Paris, directed by Albert and David Maysles, that follows the lengthy process of making the dream a reality over a 10-year period. This must-watch film illuminates the political maneuvering with then-Mayor Jacques Chirac, intriguing family dynamics, the couple’s passion and humor, and the reactions of the public when “The Pont-Neuf Wrapped” was finally unveiled in 1985. It’s a mesmerizing portrait of both the artistic couple and Parisian society at that time. The Pont-Neuf Wrapped, Paris, 1975 – 1985. © Christo 1985 / Photo © Wolfgang Volz
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Lead photo credit : The Pont-Neuf Wrapped, Paris, 1975-1985 © Christo 1985. Photo © Wolfgang Volz

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