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Masterpiece or monstrosity? Tourists bemused by Arc de Triomphe artwork

Workers on harnesses spent several days enveloping the 50-meter, 19th century arch in a silvery blue, recyclable plastic curtain, a project first imagined decades ago by the late Bulgarian-born Christo

Arc de Triomphe, Arc de Triomphe artwork, Arc de Triomphe ChristoWorkers install a shimmering wrapper to envelop the Arc de Triomphe monument, a posthumous installation known as "L'Arc de Triomphe, Wrapped" conceived by the late artists Christo and Jeanne-Claude, on the Champs Elysees avenue in Paris. (REUTERS/Gonzalo Fuentes)

Bemused tourists in Paris reacted with a mix of surprise and disdain when they discovered the Arc de Triomphe monument had been enveloped in a shimmering shroud, a posthumous installation conceived by the late artist Christo.

Workers on harnesses spent several days enveloping the 50-meter, 19th century arch in a silvery blue, recyclable plastic curtain, a project first imagined decades ago by the late Bulgarian-born Christo.

Dutch tourist Chester Hursman dismissed the wrapping as toilet paper.

British visitor Jack Silkstone struggled to work out where the artwork began and ended.

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Arc de Triomphe, Arc de Triomphe artwork, Arc de Triomphe Christo Workers install a shimmering wrapper to envelop Paris landmark, the Arc de Triomphe, in a posthumous installation by artist Christo on the Champs Elysee avenue, in Paris. (REUTERS/Christian Hartmann)

“Wait, so is this the actual installation or are they doing something under it?” Silkstone asked standing at the foot of the tower.

The work, known as “L’Arc de Triomphe Wrapped” was finally brought to life by Christo’s nephew, Vladimir Yavachev, who last week said completing the project had been a promise he made to his uncle.

Christo, whose full name was Christo Javacheff, was known for his larger-than-life installations. He wrapped up a stretch of coastline in Australia and the Reichstag parliament building in Berlin, and strung up a huge curtain in part of a canyon in Colorado. He worked closely with Jeanne-Claude on the projects.

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Arc de Triomphe, Arc de Triomphe artwork, Arc de Triomphe Christo Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo bumps fists with Culture Minister Roselyne Bachelot as Christo’s nephew Vladimir Yavachev look on as they arrive on the Champs Elysees avenue. (REUTERS/Gonzalo Fuentes)

The pair covered Paris’s Ponf Neuf bridge in yellow cloth in 1985.Tourists will still be able to visit the Arc de Triomphe and its panoramic terrace, which loom over one end of the Champs-Elysees. For a few days during the work, however, it has been closed.

“My husband had never seen it (the Arc de Triomphe) and so I just made him walk two miles and he’s not very happy about this,” Colorado resident Andrea Stutesman said.

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First published on: 17-09-2021 at 12:00 IST
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