Arts and Design

In Pictures | Behind the scenes of Christo and Jeanne-Claude’s work wrapping the Arc de Triomphe



In one of his final interviews before his death in May last year, the Bulgarian-born artist Christo said he was “flabbergasted” that he had finally been given permission to wrap one of most recognisable buildings in Paris, the Arc de Triomphe. This past weekend, workers finally began installing work, draping silver and blue fabric around the monument.

The idea to cover the building in fabric was first hatched by Christo and his partner and collaborator Jeanne-Claude 60 years ago. The couple first came up with the plan in 1961 while living in a small flat near the monument, but it was not until 2019, a decade after Jeanne-Claude’s death, that Christo was finally able to announce that the work would go ahead.


Fabric panels are being unfurled in front of the outer walls of the Arc de Triomphe Paris on Sunday
Photo: © Wolfgang Volz; © 2021 Christo and Jeanne-Claude Foundation

In the years between the conception of the work and its realisation, the duo created some of the most memorable large-scale installations in the world, from wrapping Berlin’s Reichstag in silvery fabric to creating giant bright orange floating piers in Lake Iseo, visited by a staggering 1.2 million people.

L’Arc de Triomphe, Wrapped was originally scheduled for April 2020 but was postponed due to the pandemic. Christo died in May 2020. Christo’s and Jeanne-Claude vision is finally coming to fruition this week, with work starting on wrapping the monument in 25,000 sq. m of silver and blue fabric, fastened with 3,000 metres of red rope. A new book by Taschen delves into the history and planning of the work. Below are some behind the scenes highlights.

Photographs from the book:


Christo in his New York studio in January 2020, working on a large preparatory drawing for the Arc de Triomphe, Wrapped
Photo: © Wolfgang Volz


An early collage planning the Arc de Triomphe, Wrapped (Project for Paris) work (1961-88)
© Christo and Jeanne-Claude Foundation, New York


Christo and the project director Vladimir Yavachev examine fabric samples fabric to be used to wrap the Arc de Triomphe
Photo: © Wolfgang Volz


One of the more recent collages titled L’Arc de Triomphe, Wrapped (Project for Paris), Place de l’Etoile – Charles de Gaulle, Collage (2019) made using pencil, wax crayon, enamel paint, a photograph by long time collaborator Wolfgang Volz, architectural and topographic survey, map, fabric sample, and tape
© Christo and Jeanne-Claude Foundation, New York


Christo and Yavachev discussing different sizes of red rope during a test run. Christo decided on the middle-sized rope.
Photo: © Wolfgang Volz


Crane operators and workers using cherry-pickers, fasten steel piece together that will protect the monuments detailed sculptures and create a structure to attach the fabric to
Photo: © Wolfgang Volz


Christo in his studio in January 2020 alongside his large drawing work L’Arc de Triomphe, Wrapped, (Project for Paris) Place de l’Etoile – Charles de Gaulle
Photo: © Wolfgang Volz

Christo and Jeanne-Claude. L’Arc de Triomphe, Wrapped (Advance Edition), Taschen, 96pp, £20 (pb)





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