France’s art scene is preparing to reopen, now that Prime Minister Édouard Philippe has announced that galleries and so-called small museums could start welcoming visitors as soon as May 11. But it appears that Parisians will have to wait one more year to see what had originally been expected to be one of 2020’s biggest art events, both in scale and in anticipation.
Christo’s long-awaited wrapping of the Arc de Triomphe in Paris, previously slated to go on view this September, has been pushed back a year, to 2021. Its new dates will be September 18–October 3 of that year. According to a release, with the coronavirus pandemic in mind, the artist made the decision to push the work’s execution back a year in collaboration with the Centre Pompidou and the Centre des Monuments Nationaux.
[See a guide to Christo and Jeanne-Claude’s biggest wrappings.]
First conceived in 1962 with his partner Jeanne-Claude, the piece, titled L’Arc de Triomphe, Wrapped (Project for Paris, Place de l’Étoile – Charles de Gaulle), is to involve the covering of the iconic arch in 269,097 square feet of fabric, making it one of Christo’s biggest works to date. The current delay is not the first one the piece has faced: after the League for the Protection of Birds raised concerns in 2019 about how the piece might affect krestels that nest on the Arc de Triomphe, Christo pushed back the wrapping’s opening date.
Christo and Jeanne-Claude are widely known for their wrappings of famous monuments and sites from the Reichstag building in Berlin to the Pont Neuf in Paris in hundreds of thousands of square feet of fabric, and their temporary sculptures typically become major attractions during their short runs. New York officials estimated that the couple’s sculpture The Gates, shown in Central Park in 2005 for just two weeks, brought in more than $80 million in tourism.