PARIS: French President Emmanuel Macron inaugurated a posthumous installation Thursday, one conceived by the late artist Christo, which envelops Paris’ 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.
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 Yavatchev, at a cost of about 14 million euros ($16.54 million).
Christo, whose full name was Christo Javacheff, was known for his larger-than-life installations. With his collaborator and wife Jeanne-Claude, he once strung up a huge curtain in part of a canyon in Colorado.
Involving the most visited monument in Paris that looms over one end of the Champs-Elysees, the Arc de Triomphe project 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 Sept. 18 to Oct. 3