The public art project taking shape in Paris doesn't just look like something Christo would do, it is his project, being completed more than a year after the artist's death. Workers are covering the Arc de Triomphe in 270,000 square feet of silvery blue, plastic wrapping, a look that will officially debut Saturday and run through Oct. 3, Reuters reports. It's something Christo, who died in May 2020, and his wife and partner in art, Jeanne-Claude, had wanted to do since 1961. "Christo made me promise I'd finish it," said Vladimir Yavachev, his nephew and the project's director, "and I'm relieved I could."
Workers have attached about 400 tons of steel to the 15-story war memorial, which will keep the structure from rubbing against the recyclable fabric that will be draped by rappellers. Almost 10,000 feet of red rope will tie the fabric down, per the Wall Street Journal. The billowing of the fabric in the $16.5 million project will give the appearance that "the Arc just took a deep breath," Yavachey said. "The choice is striking because there are so many layers of history to that monument, and now they’re adding their own," said a curator at the Pompidou Center. "I think they're asking us in a subtle way to appreciate the present."
Tourists will still be able to visit the landmark. In addition to "L'Arc de Triomphe, Wrapped," several exhibits around the city will address the artists' work. Photos will be posted along the Seine illustrating the careers of Christo and Jeanne-Claude, who died in 2009. Receiving permits for Christo's projects often was difficult, but President Emmanuel Macron and the Center for National Monuments supported this one. Christo enjoyed the problem-solving involved in his projects, Yavachev said. "The biggest challenge for me is that Christo is not here," his nephew said. "I miss his enthusiasm, his criticisms, his energy and all of these things." He said he's committed to completing one last Christo project, in Abu Dhabi, but didn't say when. (Christo called off one installation after Donald Trump's election.)