Not even death could stop Christo from creating new works of colossal public art.
The famed artist passed away in May 2020 with two massive and ambitious projects still left unrealized. His partner Jeanne-Claude passed away in 2009.
One of their planned projects—covering Paris' Arc de Triomphe in silvery blue fabric, crisscrossed with red rope—will debut on September 18. The artwork, L'Arc de Triomphe, Wrapped, will be viewable there until October 3, when it will be dismantled.
Work on the project, which the artist conceived back in 1962, has already begun. A large factory (pictured below) in Germany is now crafting the fabric.
In all, some 25,000 square meters of recyclable polypropylene will be used, along with 3,000 meters of rope. The labor of installing will start after Bastille Day on July 14.
The Christo and Jean-Claude Foundation website is now accepting applications from volunteers to greet visitors, help with traffic flow, and distribute free fabric samples.
The work is being paid for by the sale of Christo's preparatory studies, scale models, plans, drawings, and other works. No public funds will go toward the project, which is being presented via a collaboration of the Centre des Monuments Nationaux and the Centre Pompidou.
Because the arch is a war monument, the foundation has made clear that the eternal flame that burns on the site will remain uninterrupted.
No date has yet been set for The Mastaba, Christo's second unfinished work. That will be a pyramid constructed from over 400,000 orange barrels and destined for Abu Dhabi. Christo hoped it would be the largest sculpture in the world.
I think it's easy to giggle at these large art works as mere stunts. But as one of the many thousands of awestruck people who got to walk through Christo's The Gates in New York City in 2005, I can tell you experiencing one of Christo's works in person is a powerful experience.
The Gates consisted of 7,503 orange arches covered in billowing saffron-colored fabric set up in Central Park. Walking through felt like a waking dream. The beauty of the colors, the transformation of a known space into something brand new, the interactivity of the piece—I will never forget that afternoon of meditative wandering after a fortuitous snowfall.
I hope this project in Paris will be as impactful for those who get to see it in person.