L'Arc de Triomphe, Wrapped. Photo © Maxime Fritsch
I was surprised when the morning's headlines announced Christo's latest feat: wrapping the L'Arc de Triomphe up in fabric. From watching equally baffled tourists' reactions on social media, I was not alone.
“Didn't he pass away last year?” I thought, half-awake as I sipped my first cup of coffee.
A quick check confirmed that, yes, he had. However his last art installation, L'Arc de Triomphe, Wrapped, has gone on as planned – if a little delayed.
Originally a husband and wife team, Christo and Jeanne-Claude had made a name for themselves during the last half of the 20th century, covering various landmarks in swaths of material: the Reichstag in Berlin, the Pont Neuf in Paris, and even several small islands in Florida's Biscayne Bay were smothered in hot pink polypropylene. Perhaps the biggest event of all was the much-publicized The Gates, which cheered a bleary, cynical New York.
The Gates (photo ©Morris Pearl)
Christo continued to create their larger than life projects, even after Jeanne-Claude died in 2009.
Why do such a thing?
Why cover or surround familiar landscapes and monuments with literally tons of material?
Some say it's because the husband-wife team wanted to get viewers to experience well-known places with fresh, new eyes. Others grumble it's just a cheap way to garner attention in an increasingly crowded art world.
According to Christo and Jeanne-Claude: “Every artist in the world likes his or her work to make people think.”
Seeing the chatter being generated around L'Arc de Triomphe, I would have to say this goal, while posthumous, is still being met.
* To paraphrase the late great Mark Twain.
Link to a live cam feed of the L'Arc de Triomphe here: https://christojeanneclaude.net/timeline/