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Artistic work conceived in 1962 is finally realized as Paris' Arc de Triomphe is wrapped in fabric

Arc de Triomphe wrapped in fabric
Arc de Triomphe wrapped in fabric 03:18

It took four years of planning and 270,000 square feet of silver polypropylene fabric to wrap the Arc de Triomphe from its crown to its giant feet. 

It cost over $16 million to install, but will only be in place for just over two weeks. It looms over the Champs-Élysées, stopping the famously blasé Parisians in their tracks.

"Usually I go down and up in the Champs-Élysées, never see Arc de Triomphe. Today I see Arc de Triomphe," one person told CBS News' Holly Williams.

The work was conceived in 1962 by the artist Christo and his partner Jeanne-Claude — the same team who wrapped the Reichstag building in Berlin and 11 islands off Miami. 

He famously said art is irrational and useless — its only point to delight the senses. 

Jeanne-Claude passed away in 2009, followed by Christo last year. His nephew Vladimir Javacheff oversaw the wrapping of the Arc de Triomphe. He said criticism is normal.

"Its very human, not of all of us to agree, but everybody is entitled to their own opinion. And everybody's opinion and interpretation is legitimate. They can, it's a work of art. You can take it in so many ways," Javacheff said.

When some think of French architectural icons, the Eiffel Tower may spring to mind. But for many French people, it's the Arc de Triomphe that symbolizes their national identity. Its was built as a memorial to fallen French soldiers, and through the centuries it's witnessed catastrophic defeats, glorious victories and vandalism during street protests in 2018.

The installation will remain in place for 16 days, from September 18 to October 3.

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