Operation combining art and engineering on a massive scale fulfils dream of late artist couple.
Shortly after the sun rose over central Paris, the first of the orange-clad rope technicians hopped over the top of the Arc de Triomphe and began to abseil down the landmark unrolling a swathe of silvery blue fabric that shimmered in the early light.
Someone clapped as the first abseiler went over the top – 50 metres from the ground – but most in the crowd of onlookers just held their breath. It was a slow and meticulous operation, requiring them to stop make adjustments to the folds in the material every few metres while avoiding touching the arch itself.
The monumental feat of wrapping the Arc de Triomphe in 25,000 sq metres of material and posthumously fulfilling a 60-year dream for the artist Christo, had begun.
As more rolls of recyclable material appeared along with more rope technicians – a team of 95 in all – there was excitement, emotion and a few frayed nerves over an operation that combined art and engineering on a massive scale.
There was sadness, too, that the artists, Christo and his French wife, Jeanne-Claude, who had first imagined L’Arc de Triomphe, Wrapped in 1962 while renting a small room nearby, were not there to see it. The Bulgarian-born Christo Vladimirov Javacheff died in May last year, while his wife and artistic partner – the couple worked together under the name Christo – died in 2009...