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Materials from public art display upcycled for Olympic tents

Features | February 1, 2024 | By:

L’Arc de Triomphe, Wrapped, on display in Paris, France, in 2021. Image: © 2021 Christo and Jeanne-Claude Foundation/Wolfgang Volz

Recycled materials from L’Arc de Triomphe, Wrapped, 1961–2021, a former public art installation, will be used to make shade structures and tents for the 2024 Olympics and Paralympic Games, a collaboration between Parley for the Oceans and the Christo and Jeanne-Claude Foundation.

Christo in his art studio with a preparatory drawing of L’Arc de Triomphe, Wrapped in New York City, N.Y., in September 2019. Image: © 2019 Christo and Jeanne-Claude Foundation/Wolfgang Volz

L’Arc de Triomphe, Wrapped was a large public art piece where the Arc de Triomphe in Paris, France, was literally wrapped in 269,098 square feet of recyclable silvery blue polypropylene fabric secured with 9,843 feet of red polypropylene rope. It was on display for 16 days in September 2021 and viewed by 6 million people. 

Ropes being installed to secure and contour the fabric, Paris, Sept. 13, 2021. The project required 9,843 feet of red polypropylene rope. Image: © 2021 Christo and Jeanne-Claude Foundation/Lubri

It was created by Christo, who worked with his wife, Jeanne-Claude, before her passing in 2009. The pair was known for wrapping landmarks around the world with massive amounts of fabric, such as The Gates, an installation in New York City, N.Y., in Central Park that featured 7,503 saffron-colored fabric panels or “gates” along the 23 miles of the park’s walkways for 16 days in 2005.

The fabric and ropes used in L’Arc de Triomphe, Wrapped are being recycled in collaboration with the environmental organization Parley for the Oceans. Images: © 2021 Christo and Jeanne-Claude Foundation/Parley for the Oceans

They referred to themselves as “environmental artists” because they insisted on recycling the materials used in their installations. The reuse of materials from L’Arc de Triomphe, Wrapped continues this tradition.

Christo initially began working on L’Arc de Triomphe, Wrapped in 1961 but was unable to see the completed project, passing away in 2020 just a few months before its planned installation that year, which had been postponed until fall to protect the kestrel falcons that nest in the arch. A team of Parisian artists stepped in to complete it in 2021 with support from the city of Paris.

Parley for the Oceans, an organization focused on reducing plastic in the ocean, and its partners have processed all the fabric and rope from the art piece for use in Paris events, including the 2024 Olympic Games, taking place July 26–Aug. 11, and the 2024 Paralympic Games, scheduled for Aug. 28–Sept. 8. 

The non-fabric materials in the piece have also been recycled: 40% of the steel used was returned to the supplier for further use while the rest was recycled in the Paris area. The wood from the arc rooftop will be reused in future projects.

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