‘A crazy dream come true’: Macron inaugurates the Wrapped Arc de Triomphe

(From L) French Culture Minister Roselyne Bachelot, Paris Mayor and Socialist Party (PS) candidate for the 2022 French presidential elections Anne Hidalgo, French President Emmanuel Macron and his wife Brigitte Macron attend the inauguration of the Arc de Triomphe wrapped in silver-blue fabric as it was designed by the late Bulgaria-born artist Christo, in Paris, France, 16 September 2021. [Pool/EPA/EFE]

French President Emmanuel Macron on Thursday (16 September) inaugurated a posthumous installation conceived by the late artist Christo that envelops Paris’s Arc de Triomphe monument in 2,500 square metres of silvery blue, recyclable plastic wrapping.

“This is the achievement of a 60-year-old dream, a crazy dream come true,” said Macron, who was accompanied by his wife Brigitte and officials ranging from Culture Minister Roselyne Bachelot to Paris Mayor and Presidential hopeful Anne Hidalgo.

Macron said he was particular happy the installation took place at the Arc de Triomphe because the monument had “suffered so much at the end of 2018”, alluding to the looting and vandalism at the Arc de Triomphe during an anti-government “yellow vest” protest that degenerated in December 2018.

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Imagined in 1961 by the late Bulgarian-born artist Christo, “L’Arc de Triomphe, Wrapped” was finally brought to life by Christo’s nephew, Vladimir Yavachev, at a cost of about €14 million ($16.54 million).

Christo, whose full name was Christo Yavachev, was known for his larger-than-life installations.

He wrapped up a stretch of coastline in Australia and the Reichstag parliament building in Berlin, and strung up a huge curtain in part of a canyon in Colorado. He worked closely with his wife Jeanne-Claude on the projects.

The pair covered Paris’s Ponf Neuf bridge in yellow cloth in 1985.

The Arc de Triomphe project, involving the most visited monument in Paris that looms over one end of the Champs-Elysées , will still allow tourists to visit the site and its panoramic terrace.

The monument is also home to a tribute to the Unknown Soldier, in the form of a flame of remembrance that is rekindled every day. The installation will be on view from 18 September to 3 October.

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