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The Arc de Triomphe gets a daring makeover

A photo of the wrapped Arc de Triomphe at night time.
(Image credit: Matthias Koddenberg)

Have you ever been stood at a famous landmark and thought to yourself, 'I wonder what this would look like covered in one big sheet?' Yeah, us neither, but that wasn't the case for one artistic duo.

The Arc de Triomphe stands proudly at the western end of Paris' Champs-Élysées and is home to the famous eternal flame. Its neoclassical architecture has been a tourist attraction for nearly 200 years, but if you were to visit it today, it would look a bit different. The Parisian structure is currently covered in a giant silver sheet. (If you're looking for an art fix but don't want to leave the comfort of the couch, then check out our round up of the best online galleries.) 

A photo of the Arc de Triomphe covered in a silvery blue sheet.

The Arc de Triomphe was originally designed by Jean-François-Thérèse Chalgrin.  (Image credit: Jad Sylla)

This bizarre art installation is an ode to the late artistic duo, Christo Vladimirov Javacheff (Christo) and Jeanne-Claude Denat de Guillebon (Jeanne-Claude). The pair had planned to cloak the arch for nearly 60 years, and it was meant to begin construction last spring. Due to the Notre-Dame fire, followed by COVID, the instalment was delayed, meaning that Christo sadly never got to see the final product after passing away last summer. Christo's nephew took on the project to make sure that all the duo's hard work didn't go to waste, and it's now set to open to the public on the 18 September.

This isn't Christo and Jeanne-Claude's first significant art piece - the pair are known for their extravagant and wonderful art installations, from wrapping the Reichstag in Germany, to the floating barrel pyramid at the Serpentine in London. These artists knew how to make a statement, and even after their death, they are still continuing to make monumental art. 

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The Reichstag wrapped in a sheet.

The Reichstag building was wrapped in 1995. (Image credit: W. Kumm)
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Christo & Jeanne-Claude's floating pyramid at the Serpentine gallery in London.

This sculpture at the Serpentine gallery is made up of 7,506 horizontally stacked barrels. (Image credit: Wolfgang Volz)
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The Australian coastline wrapped by Christo and Jeanne-Claude.

The artists wrapped used one million square feet of fabric to wrap part of the Australian coastline. (Image credit: Ellen Waugh)
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The Floating Piers installation.

Christo's 'The Floating Piers' piece was located on Italy's Lake Iseo. (Image credit: Wolfgang Volz)
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Art installation of a curtain across Rifle, Colorado.

The Valley Curtain project took 28 months to complete. (Image credit: Wolfgang Volz)

Christo explained before he passed away that there is no particular message attached to the Arc de Triomphe installation. However, some think there might be a hidden meaning. One Parisian at the scene told a journalist from Deutcshe Welle  that he thinks "the artist manages to create a link between the past [referring to the wrapping of the Pont Neuf] and present through his installations. It's as if he's telling us to continue to keep the past alive." 

Despite its popularity in Paris with locals, tourists and journalists crowding the monument, it has received some criticism online. After costing the artist over $16million, you'd expect the installation to get at least some good reviews from onlookers. Thankfully for those who aren't a fan, the arch will only be wrapped for two weeks.

oc_the_nephew_of_christo_took_over_and_started from r/europe
oc_the_nephew_of_christo_took_over_and_started from r/europe
oc_the_nephew_of_christo_took_over_and_started from r/europe

We like the installation here at Creative Bloq as it commemorates two artists who had big and extravagant artistic ideas. While it does take away from the Arc de Triumph's neoclassical architecture, it's interesting to see how a simple sheet can disfigure such an iconic structure in Paris' skyline.

We won't have the chance to visit the Arc de Triomphe to see Christo and Jeanne-Claude's legacy in full swing, but we wish we did. If you fancy having a go at making your own statement piece, check out our guide on how to make realistic 3D sculptures. 

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Amelia Bamsey

Amelia Bamsey is the Staff Writer for Creative Bloq. Cornish born-and-bred, Amelia has a passion for all things art, design, photography and music.