What on earth are they doing to the Arc de Triomphe?

More than 1000 workers are wrapping the Arc de Triomphe in giant sheets of fabric.

The Paris monument is being draped in 25,000 square meters of recyclable silvery blue fabric.

The puzzling concept drew crowds as soon as its installation began. But it’s all in tribute to late artist Christo.

Arc de Triomphe
Fabric panels are being unfurled in front of the outer walls of the Arc de Triomphe ©  2021 Christo and Jeanne-Claude Foundation

The Bulgarian-born artist spent his entire career wrapping world-famous landmarks. He wrapped the Reichstag in Berlin and the Victor Emmanuel II National Monument in Rome. Christo also strung a curtain across a mountain pass in Colarado.

Christo envisioned wrapping the famous Arc de Triomphe since living in an apartment nearby in the 1960s. He was never able to fulfil that dream.

The late artist Christo © Wolfgang Volz 2019 Christo and Jeanne-Claude Foundation

Fifty years later and a year after his death, nephew Vladimir Yavachev is bringing that vision to life at a cost of €14 million.

“Our job is to bring to life Christo’s imagination expressed in his drawings, which we did in this project, creating the fabric and the ropes based on our engineering knowledge” said Jörg Tritthardt, CEO of Büro Für Leichtbau, the engineering

The art installation will be complete by 18 September and will remain until 3 October.

Currently 95 climbers are in the process of unfolding the fabric sheaths.

Crowds watch © Benjamin Loyseau 2021 Christo and Jeanne-Claude Foundation

“We are unfolding fabric from the top of the monument and this is one of the most spectacular moments of the installation”, said Vladimir Yavachev.

Access is free to the public and 300 welcome monitors will answer questions and hand out free fabric samples.

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