“They had the Arc de Triomphe in their heads and hearts for 60 years,” says Matthias Koddenberg, a longtime friend of the couple and a member of the project team. “He still could not believe that he was approved to work with such a national symbol. [It] was like a miracle to him. ”
The € 14 million ($ 22 million) project was funded entirely by Christo through the sale of his studies, drawings, collages and scale models. More than 1,000 people worked on the set-up, including a team of 100 orange overall technicians who abseiled down the monument on September 12 to bring out the huge rolls of cloth.
Behind the silver and electric blue material – which visitors are encouraged to touch and even get small samples to take home – is a steel frame that protects the 185-year-old monument’s invaluable statues and cornices. Even the roof has been nicely wrapped.
Hundreds of thousands of visitors have already flocked to see the work and compare it to a frozen elephant or a hanging waterfall.
There are also critics: the philosopher Benjamin Olivennes likened the package to an unmade bed. Journalist André Bercoff decided that it looked like a giant trash can.
“One of the critics is that this is too much of an event, and people say that it means that it is not really art but something more like a feeling of greatness,” says Koddenberg.
“I think what you see here is beautiful, but I always try to point out that what you see now is only a small part of the art. For Christo and Jeanne-Claude, their definition of art is everything from the first idea all the way to the finished product, including all discussions, all meetings, all contacts with lawyers, city officials, engineers and construction workers.
“They really changed the definition of art when they started in the 1960s. Going out of the museum or gallery and onto the streets and confronting people with art is really the key. And I think this has also had a big impact on other artists. ”
The team’s next goal is to realize Christ’s vision of a mastaba in the Abu Dhabi desert with 410,000 barrels of oil to extend higher than the Great Pyramid of Giza. After that, the Christo and Jeanne-Claude project will only be history and legend.