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Christo Arc de Triomphe installation that took 60 years to become reality is confusing tourists

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Late Bulgarian-born artist Christo’s posthumous installation, Arc de Triomphe Wrapped, is drawing mixed reactions from tourists visiting the iconic monument in Paris.

The installation, which was conceived by Christo and his late wife, Jeanne-Claude Denat in 1961, was unveiled by French President Emmanuel Macron on Thursday 17 September.

It will open to the public on Saturday and remain on display until 3 October.

Explaining his vision for the installation, Christo had said in the past: “It will be like a living object which will come alive in the wind and reflect the light.”

The couple was known for creating elaborate temporary installations by wrapping fabric around world famous monuments like Berlin’s Reichstag and Paris’ Pont Neuf bridge.

While the country’s culture minister Roselyne Bachelot called the artist-couple’s work “a formidable gift offered to Parisians, the French and beyond, to all art lovers”, the Arc de Triomphe Wrapped’ drew mixed reactions from tourists.

“It makes me think of a big gray elephant placed in Paris on the Champs-Elysee,” one person said, about the €14m installation.

Another tourist wasn’t quite sure what to make of the swaddled Napoleonic arch.

He reportedly said: "Wait, so is this the actual installation or are they doing something under it?"

Others were more appreciative of the artist’s work. A Parisian woman remarked that the installation highlights the “beauty of the form.”

However, some simply dismissed the wrapping as “toilet paper”.

Workers began covering the Arc de Triomphe in 25,000 metres of silvery-blue recyclable plastic wrapping on Sunday (12 September), before it was inaugurated by Mr Macron earlier this week.

The project was realised by the couple’s nephew, Vladimir Yavachev and reportedly financed through the sale of Christo’s preparatory studies, drawings, scale models, and other pieces of work.

Yavachev told The Associated Press he now plans to turn his attention to another one of Christo and Jeanne-Claude’s incomplete works — a 150-metre-tall ancient Egyptian tomb in Abu Dhabi.

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