The Arc de Triomphe in Paris is wrapped in cloth

The Arc de Triomphe in Paris is wrapped in cloth

Paris – The city of Paris unveils a gigantic work of art built around a real monument: the Arc de Triomphe entirely wrapped in silver and blue fabric.

On Thursday, the installation will open by the late artists Christo and Jean-Claude, who conceived the project in 1961. The visits will take approximately three weeks. On weekends, the entire traffic-packed Arc de Triomphe roundabout will be pedestrianised.

Visitors to the famous Arc de Napoleon, which dominates the avenue Champs-Elysées, will not only be able to see the shiny fabric, but also touch it – as the artists wanted.

Those who climb 50 meters (164 ft) to the top will step on it when they reach the rooftop terrace.

At a press conference celebrating the Arc de Triomphe, wrapped project, French Culture Minister Roslyn Bachelot called it “a wonderful gift for Parisians, French and others, for all art lovers.”

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Noting the artists’ sadly passed away, Bachelot added that it was “a posthumous testament to artistic genius”.

Bulgarian-born Christo Vladimirov Javachev met Jean-Claude Dinat de Gilbon in Paris in 1958 and they later became lovers. The idea for the artwork was born in the early 1960s, when they were living in Paris. Jeanne-Claude passed away in 2009, and Christo died in May of last year. The memorial was due to be wrapped last fall, but the COVID-19 pandemic delayed it.

The couple’s nephew, Vladimir Yavachev, told The Associated Press that Christo “wanted to complete this project. We made him promise that we would do it.”

Yavachev said the 14-million-euro ($16.4 million) project is being funded through the sale of Christo’s preliminary studies, drawings, scale models and other work.

The artists were known for elaborate and temporary creations that included covering familiar public spaces with tapestry, including the Reichstag in Berlin and the Pont Neuf in Paris, and for creating gigantic site-specific installations, such as the series of 7,503 gates in New York City’s Central Park and the 24.5-mile “Running Wall” in California.

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Yavachev said he plans to complete another of their unfinished projects: a 150-meter (492-foot) pyramid-like terrace in Abu Dhabi.

“We have the blueprints, we just have to do it,” he said.

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