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Arc de Triomphe, Recycled

September 25, 2023
arc de triomphe wrapped

Arc de Triomphe, Wrapped ©Janet Whitmore

Around two years ago, the final work by the environmental artist Christo Javacheff was completed in Paris when a team completely wrapped the Arc de Triomphe in blue-silver fabric. The project had been several decades in the making, ever since Christo and his wife and artistic partner Jeanne-Claude Denat de Guillebon first imagined the idea in 1961. Wrapping the famous Paris monument took almost 270,000 square feet of fabric and more than 9,800 feet of rope, all made from recyclable polypropylene. Now, some organizations are taking advantage of the posthumous project’s materials, as the fabric and ropes will all be reused for the upcoming 2024 Paris Olympics.

The Mayor of Paris, Anne Hidalgo, announced that the organization Parley for the Oceans would help convert the materials used for Arc de Triomphe, Wrapped into “shade structures, tents or barnums”. Parley for the Oceans is familiar with this work, having previously collaborated with Adidas and Dior to help craft new sustainability policies. Furthermore, this is far from the first time someone reused the materials from a former Christo and Jeanne-Claude installation. The Floating Piers was an installation of a floating dock system lined with saffron-colored fabric on northern Italy’s Lake Iseo. After disassembly, all 750,000 square feet of fabric were recycled into crafts materials for consumer use. Hidalgo described this quality as exemplary of “ the art world’s ability to adapt to climate challenges”. The wood and steel structures that protected the Arc de Triomphe during the installation have already been recycled, being put to good use by the carpenters and steel workers they were given to.

Arc de Triomphe, Wrapped was the first Christo and Jeanne-Claude work executed after both of their deaths. Jeanne-Claude passed away in 2007, while Christo died in 2020. However, many of their ideas can still be carried out. For example, Christo and Jeanne-Claude’s 1977 plans for an installation called The Mastaba will be carried out in the United Arab Emirates within the next few years. It will likely be a larger version of London Mastaba, an installation Christo erected in London’s Hyde Park in 2016. The Mastaba will be situated in the desert about 100 miles south of Abu Dhabi. If completed, it will be the largest sculpture by volume in the world and will be Christo and Jeanne-Claude’s only permanent installation.