Culture

Cover-ups: Five monumental wraps by late artist Christo

Paris' Arc de Triomphe, wrapped in silver-blue fabric as it was designed by the late artist Christo. (Geoffroy Van Der Hasselt / AFP)

PARIS: From Berlin’s Reichstag to the Pont Neuf in Paris, late artist Christo and his wife and collaborator Jean-Claude wowed the world with their spectacular projects wrapping famous landmarks around the world.

The Arc de Triomphe in Paris is the latest. From Saturday, it will disappear under silvery-blue recyclable material for a fortnight.

Christo liked to call his ephemeral disappearing acts “gentle disturbances”.

“They will go away, like our childhood, our life,” the Bulgarian-born artist once said.

Here are five of his classic cover-ups:

“Air Package,” Eindhoven, 1966

It was air, not a landmark, that Christo first wrapped.

The couple moored their monumental package filled with air and suspended from flagpoles by steel cables outside the Van Abbemuseum in the Dutch town.

Christo said he wanted to use “the cheapest ... and biggest thing” in the world for his work. “We have more air than water and earth.”

“Chicago Museum of Modern Art,” 1969

The grim modernist building had “all the charm of a shoe box”, but Christo and Jean-Claude picked the museum precisely for its shape, because it already looked like a package.

They shrouded it in greenish-brown tarpaulin to contrast the snow that cloaked the city the winter the wrap took place.

Alarmed by the idea, Chicago’s fire chiefs objected, ordering the museum to remove the tarpaulin, but finally relenting.

“Sydney’s Wrapped Coast,” 1969

The couple used a small army of climbers and helpers to attach 90,000 square metres of fabric to rocks stretched across a part of Sydney’s Harbour.

It took four weeks and 17,000 hours of work for the team to finish the project that remained in place for three months.

“Pont Neuf, Paris,” 1985

In one of their most famous wraps, Christo draped the oldest bridge in Paris in a silky sandstone-coloured material echoing its real colour.

As with all the couple’s work, the cost was covered through the sale of preparatory drawings and Christo’s earlier works.

“Reichstag, Berlin,” 1995

First conceived by the artists in 1975, the wrap of a building so charged with painful history was rejected multiple times by the city of Berlin. The 20-year wait was worth it, becoming one of their signature works.

They wrapped the German parliament building in 100,000 square metres of thick silvery fabric, tied in place by more than 15 kilometres of blue rope.

Millions flocked to see it before it came down after only a fortnight. Ironically, the city wanted it to stay up longer.

 

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