Christo and Jeanne-Claude’s final artwork, the wrapping of L‘Arc de Triomphe in Paris, has been chronicled in a new, limited-edition book by Taschen.
Titled Christo and Jeanne-Claude, L’Arc de Triomphe, Wrapped, Paris, 1961-2021, it explores every aspect of the project, from its earliest sketches to its spectacular realisation in September 2021, a year after Christo's death.
For 16 days, the famous landmark was cocooned in 25,000 square metres of recyclable, silvery blue polypropylene fabric, held in place by 3,000 metres of red rope. As with all of Christo and Jeanne-Claude's works, it was intentionally monumental and free to visit.
While memorable, and beautiful to behold — especially at dusk when the setting sun lit the shimmery fabric a dazzling gold — the idea took an astonishing 60 years to come to fruition.
First conceived in 1962, when the pair stayed near the Arc de Triomphe on their first arrival in Paris, it began as sketches and a photomontage showing the monument wrapped in cloth. The couple returned to the idea again in 1988, with collages.
Having met in 1958, together Jeanne-Claude and Christo enjoyed a lifelong artistic collaboration that resulted in audacious, site-specific projects all over the world. They wrapped the Reichstag in Germany in 1995, while in the early 1970s they hung a curtain between two Colorado mountains.
Following Jeanne-Claude's death in 2009, Christo continued working, creating a three-kilometre-long floating bridge connecting an island to mainland Italy in 2016. However, it was not until 1994 that Jeanne-Claude received any kind of recognition as a co-creator, with only Christo being given the credit.
The new book, at 450 pages, and limited to only 2,000 copies, has been created with the couple's studio, and follows their remarkable final artwork, from first sketches through to realisation — and has been seen by about six million people.
With all of their projects envisioned as deliberately short-lived, this expansive book gives a sense of permanence to something originally so ephemeral, and seems a fitting tribute to such a visionary pair.