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Two Major Artists Have Plans for the Arc de Triomphe in 2020

By Katherine LaGrave

06.21.19

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The Arc de Triomphe, one of the most popular landmarks in Paris, was commissioned by Napoleon in 1806.

Photo by Pigprox/Shutterstock.com

The Arc de Triomphe, one of the most popular landmarks in Paris, was commissioned by Napoleon in 1806.

One of Paris’s biggest landmarks will get the artistic treatment next year.

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In 2020, the Arc de Triomphe will get something of a makeover thanks to artists Olafur Eliasson and Christo, who will have installations centered on the landmark at different points throughout the year.

Bulgarian-born Christo announced plans to wrap the Arc de Triomphe in a project titled “L’Arc de Triomphe, Wrapped (Project for Paris, Place de l’Étoile-Charles de Gaulle).” The design will include approximately 270,000 square feet of blue recyclable polypropylene fabric, which will be pinned around the Arc de Triomphe by 23,000 feet of red rope, reports The New York Times. While the project was initially slated to run in April 2020, it's been pushed back to September 19 through October 4, 2020, according to French newspaper Le Figaro, because kestrel falcons nest on the monument each spring.

This “wrapping” period was originally meant to overlap with a related exhibit at the city's Pompidou Center. Running from March 18 through June 15, 2020, the Pompidou show is dedicated to the work of Christo and his late wife and artistic partner Jeanne-Claude, who died in 2009. It will include an inside look at some of their other projects, including “The Pont-Neuf Wrapped, Project for Paris, 1975-85.”

Danish-Icelandic artist Olafur Eliasson, meanwhile, has been commissioned to install a permanent, €3 million (US $3.4 million) light installation at the Arc de Triomphe, reports The Art Newspaper. The project will be funded by Fonds pour Paris (Paris Foundation), which was established in 2015 by current Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo to raise money from the private sector for public art.

Eliasson’s proposal for the project is still being finalized, however, and Anne-Céline Delvert, deputy director of Fonds pour Paris, said that it remains to be seen whether or not it can actually be done, “due to the technical difficulties involved.” There is currently no information posted about when exactly Eliasson’s would-be installation might debut, but Delvert says more details will be revealed in late summer or early autumn.

Promoting an artsy Arc de Triomphe has motivations beyond the strictly aesthetic: Paris is hosting the 2024 Olympics, and Hidalgo has been vocal about cleaning up the city and burnishing its image. This year already, the Arc de Triomphe has undergone extensive renovations and repairs, after it was damaged and sprayed with graffiti during the Gilets Jaunes (Yellow Vest) riots.

Don’t want to wait ’til 2020 to catch some cutting-edge art in Paris? Head to Fluctuart, the world’s first floating museum, which opens July 4 on the Seine, and will feature work from artists including JR, Keith Haring, and Shepard Fairey year-round.

>> Next: Plan Your Trip With AFAR’s Guide to Paris

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