L'Arc De Triomphe, Wrapped.
Muhammad Yusuf, Features Writer
In an award ceremony in Paris, Abu Dhabi Festival (ADF) honoured artist Christo, the world-renowned conceptual artist known for his many iconic environmental artworks, with the prestigious Abu Dhabi Festival Award, designed and created by Maison Chopard, for his remarkable work and a lifetime of extraordinary contributions to arts and culture.
Presenting the award was Huda I Alkhamis-Kanoo, Founder of Abu Dhabi Music & Arts Foundation (ADMAF), and Founder and ADF Artistic Director. She was joined by Salem Al Qassimi, the UAE’s Permanent Representative to UNESCO, and Christo’s nephew Vladimir Yavacheff, who accepted the award on his uncle’s behalf.
Alkhamis-Kanoo said: “Christo was an artistic genius, a generous spirit, and an inspiring teacher. Throughout his life, he and his wife Jeanne-Claude accomplished projects that seemed impossible. With boundless tenacity, they persevered, determined to share their creative vision with the world.
“Each time Christo realised a new project, he redefined what the world thought of as public art. He will forever be remembered for his amazing creative work, but also for his support of young people and for encouraging them to develop their creativity.
“During his long creative relationship with the UAE, Christo gave of himself so generously. His mentorship helped shape the careers of many creative youths in the Emirates. The Christo Award, established together with the Abu Dhabi Music & Arts Foundation, will continue to nurture young artists for generations to come. “The Abu Dhabi Festival Award recognises Christo’s invaluable contributions to visual art and the extraordinary legacy he leaves behind.”
Hend Mana Al Otaiba, the UAE Ambassador to France, said that “the honouring of the late prominent artist Christo and his rich legacy by Abu Dhabi Festival in Paris reflects the Emirati appreciation for creativity through recognising innovators from different parts of the world. It also confirms Abu Dhabi’s global status in culture and the arts and its role in celebrating great talents worldwide.”
Al Otaiba praised ADF’s efforts in supporting and strengthening the soft power strategy of the United Arab Emirates through many cultural and artistic events and exhibitions, which contribute to the consolidation of diplomatic relations with other countries and crystallise the UAE's mission to cultivate a spirit of tolerance and coexistence among civilisations. Al Qassimi said that “The Abu Dhabi Festival Award is a testament to the cultural footprint left behind by the late Christo and his wife Jeanne-Claude, who reimagined the boundaries of public art through selfless dedication and creativity.
“Christo’s ingenuity has a special place in the UAE’s cultural landscape, and the Christo & Jeanne-Claude Award, presented under the patronage of Her Highness Sheikha Shamsa bint Hamdan Al Nahyan, will continue to honour this legacy through supporting young talents in the UAE in producing compelling artistic work.”
"Christo's long friendship with Her Excellency Huda Kanoo was very much based on their love and appreciation of the arts; so this award is very significant,” said Vladimir Yavachev, project director of L'Arc de Triomphe, Wrapped, Paris, 1961-2021. "Together, they worked to encourage and support art in public spaces in future generations through the NYUAD award and lectures, which united communities, especially through the Abu Dhabi Music and Arts Foundation founded by Her Excellency Huda Kanoo. I want to thank her warmly for her friendship with Christo and for continuing her work tirelessly to promote a common goal".
L’Arc de Triomphe, Wrapped is Christo’s latest work, a dream that took 60 years to realise, which became a reality almost a year after his death at the age of 84. Around 270,000 square feet of shimmering silvery-blue fabric now covers the entire iconic Parisian monument. During his lifetime, Christo visited the United Arab Emirates regularly and was very fond of its culture. He had a passion to empower young talents in the field of visual art, something that was strongly shared by the ADMAF. In 2012, the Christo and Jeanne-Claude Award was established under the Patronage of Her Highness Sheikha Shamsa bint Hamdan Al Nahyan. It is presented by New York University Abu Dhabi in partnership with ADMAF to nurture artistic talent in the United Arab Emirates.
ADF is supported by its Lead Partner Mubadala Investment Company (Mubadala), the Energy Partner GS Energy, and the Award Partner, Chopard.
Founded in 2004, ADF was initially a small arts and culture platform that soon graduated to one of the world’s premiere annual events. Held in the UAE, it celebrates artistic and creative excellence, and promotes the role of music and the arts in bringing nations closer. It also promotes Abu Dhabi as a leading global hub for creativity and as an Emirati beacon for respect and tolerance. With a growing network of 30 international partners, the festival brings audiences together each year to enjoy world premieres and exclusive commissions in the UAE and around the world. Founded in 1996, ADMAF is one of the oldest, not-for-profit cultural organisations in the Arabian Gulf. Pioneering new artistic practices, it seeks to deepen global cross-cultural dialogue and inspire a renewed interest in the creativity of the UAE and Arab world.
In partnership with leading national and international institutions, it delivers multidisciplinary initiatives for people of all ages, backgrounds and nationalities through ADF, year-round youth platforms and community programmes. Mubadala Investment Company is a sovereign investor managing a global portfolio, aimed at generating sustainable financial returns for the Government of Abu Dhabi. Mubadala’s $243.4 billion (AED 894 billion) portfolio spans six continents with interests in multiple sectors and asset classes. Headquartered in Abu Dhabi, it has offices in London, Rio de Janeiro, Moscow, New York, San Francisco and Beijing.
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