The Obelisk of the Place de la Concorde past the Kärcher

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The Obelisk of the Place de la Concorde in Paris, in 2013.

A gentle restoration

The announcement of the restoration of one of the most emblematic monuments of the capital by Kärcher, the German company famous for its cleaners allowing to clean up cars, terraces and other low walls could have shuddered. No worries ! The company, which has already restored the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin and Cologne Cathedral, has no plans to spray this listed column with powerful jets of water. According to The Parisian, rather, it provides for cleaning at low water vapor pressure and a micro-sandblasting technique. The work, which will last six months, will begin in January.

A tax exemption

To restore the Obelisk, Kärcher brings its know-how in exchange for a 60% tax exemption on the cost of labor. Today, museums, castles and monuments commonly use this device. The Picasso Museum thus had recourse to the expert sponsorship of the Eiffage group for the repair of its administrative buildings.

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But, for some time, this type of sponsorship has been in the crosshairs. In 2019, the daily The echoes recalled that this procedure allowed large companies to exempt salaries at the end of their careers from taxation to avoid separating at great expense from their seniors …

A diplomatic gift

It took no less than two years to tow this pink granite colossus decorated with hieroglyphics in France from Aswan, in Egypt, to the Place de la Concorde. The story begins in 1829, when the viceroy of Egypt, Mehemet Ali, decides to donate one of the two obelisks erected in Alexandria to King Charles X. But Champollion, who had already begun to decipher the hieroglyphics, convinced the monarch to offer instead that of the temple of Luxor, carved more than three thousand years earlier under the reign of Ramses II.

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A ship, the Luxor, will be specially built to transport the 23-meter-high, 230-ton monument. The Obelisk was finally erected on October 25, 1836 in front of some 200,000 Parisians.

An artist’s dream

Yves Klein had wanted to illuminate the Obelisk in blue, his favorite color, on the occasion of the opening of his exhibition “The Void” at the Iris Clert gallery on April 28, 1958. Two days earlier, at 11 pm, the artist had made a brief test with the help of EDF. The evening of the opening, however, the Parisian authorities decide otherwise. ” We decided at the prefecture to remove the lighting of the Obelisk because of the too personal nature of this event ”, wrote Yves Klein. It was not until 2006 that the painter’s wish was fulfilled, posthumously, on the occasion of the White Night coinciding with the Yves Klein exhibition entitled “Body, color, immaterial” at the Center Pompidou. The Town Hall has apparently taken a liking to it: in December 2020, during the first covid festivities, a new projection adorned the monument with a shower of flakes on an azure background.

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The Obelisk of the Place de la Concorde past the Kärcher