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The Arc de Triomphe by Christo and Jeanne-Claude

This week, let's celebrate the art of this artist couple with a selection of signed editions [Read more]

L'Arc de Triomphe, Wrapped, the masterpiece and final work by Christo and Jeanne-Claude, has been on view in Paris since last week. The posthumous project (Jeanne-Claude died in 2009, Christo in 2020) was directed by their nephew according to their plans and drawings. This week, let's celebrate the art of this artist couple with a selection of signed editions, including a lithograph published in 1972 representing the famous photomontage of the Arc de Triomphe.

 

The project

In the early 1960s, Christo and Jeanne-Claude were already thinking about wrapping the Arc de Triomphe. In 1962, they created a photomontage showing the monument wrapped up. The idea came to them while looking at it from the window of their first Parisian flat.  The photomontage was then published as a lithograph. Our copy is signed by Christo and justified E.A. (artist's proof). The print is referenced in the catalogue raisonné of the artist Christo and Jeanne-Claude Prints and Objects. Because of the ephemeral character of their work, their lithographs and drawings made it possible to document the work of the artist couple.

 

Javacheff CHRISTO
The wrapping of l'Arc de Triumph, 1972
Lithograph hand signed and justified E.A

 

At a cost of 14 million euros, the wrapping of the Arc de Triomphe was entirely financed through the sale of original works: preparatory drawings, models and lithographs.  The ephemeral work was created by a team of 1,000 people, using 25,000 square metres of recyclable silver-blue polypropylene fabric and 3,000 metres of red rope. This extraordinary project can be seen until 3 October.

In 2019, Christo explained that the wrapping of the Arc de Triomphe "will be like a living object that will come alive in the wind and reflect the light. The folds will move, the surface of the monument will become sensual.” The nesting of kestrels in the Arc and then the pandemic postponed the installation for eighteen months and prevented the artist from seeing it.

 

The market for the works of Christo and Jeanne-Claude 

L'Arc de Triomphe, Wrapped is currently highly sought after by collectors: editions, models and drawings depicting the wrapped monument are gaining interest. In February 2021, the “Unwrapped” sale of 373 lots from the couple's collection, organised by Sotheby's Paris, fetched 9.2 million euros ($11.1 million), more than double its high estimate.

Drawings in particular set new records for Christo. Illustrating The Umbrellas, Joint Project for Japan and USA (1991), the preparatory drawings exceeded their estimates to sell for 1.7 million euros and 1.2 million euros, surpassing the previous auction record for Christo.

 

Christo and Jeanne-Claude 

Christo and Jeanne-Claude were both born on 13 June 1935 and rebelled against abstraction, which they considered too theoretical. They quickly decided that they would transform objects by wrapping them. The couple wrapped cans, bottles, stacks of magazines and furniture and continued to explore this process by wrapping people and monuments. They married in 1962 and moved to New York two years later, where they remained until their deaths.

 

Wrapped portrait of his wife Jeanne-Claude (© Christo 1963 Photo © Christian Baur, Basel)

 

In 1975, Christo and Jeanne-Claude developed the idea of covering the Pont-Neuf in Paris with golden sandstone-coloured polyamide fabric, which would cover the twelve arches of the bridge, the parapets, the curbs and the pavements (the public would walk on the fabric). 

Wrapped Pont-Neuf by Christo and Jeanne-Claude - September 1985

 

In 1995, they really revealed themselves to the public with the packing of the Reichstag in Berlin. In less than two weeks, the work was seen by more than 5 million people.

 

Wrapped Reichstag by Christo and Jeanne-Claude, Berlin, June/July1995

 

Their creations are in the collections of museums around the world, including the Tate and Victoria and Albert Museum in London, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Guggenheim Museum and the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York...

See more artworks by Christo & Jeanne-Claude