During eight hours on the evening of June 27, 1962, Christo and Jeanne-Claude closed the Rue Visconti with 89 oil barrels. The art barricade was 13.7 x 13.2 x 2.7 feet (4.2 x 4 x 0.5 meters). It obstructed most of the traffic of the Paris Left Bank. The artists did not alter the industrial colors of the oil barrels, leaving the brand names and the rust visible.
Rue Visconti is one of the narrowest streets in Paris. Since the sixteenth century many illustrious tenants lived in the houses of the Rue Visconti, such as Racine, Adrienne Lecouvreur, Delacroix and Balzac.
The Berlin Wall had been built in August of 1961 and Algerian War protest demonstrations and barricades were taking place in Paris at the same time as Christo and Jeanne-Claude created the temporary work of art.
Text from Christo and Jeanne-Claude for a permit application to the Préfecture de Paris (an agency of the Government of France):
Rue Visconti is a one way street, between Rue Bonaparte and Rue de Seine, 140 meters long with an average width of 3 meters. The street ends at number 25 on the left side and at 26 on the right.
It has few shops: a bookstore, a modern art gallery, an antique shop, and electrical supply shop, a grocery store ... "at the angle of Rue Visconti and Rue de Seine, the cabaret du Petit More (or Maure) was opened in 1618. The poet Saint-Amant, an assiduous customer, died there. The art gallery that now stands on the site of the tavern has fortunately retained the façade, the grille and the seventeenth-century sign." (p. 134, Rochegude/Clébert, Promenades dans les rues de Paris. Rive gauche, Éditions Denoël)
The wall will be built between numbers 1 and 2, completely closing the street to traffic, and will cut all communication between Rue Bonaparte and Rue de Seine.
Constructed solely with metal barrels used for transporting gasoline and oil (labeled with various brand names: ESSO, AZUR, SHELL, BP, and with a capacity of either 50 or 200 liters), the wall will be 4 meters high and 2.9 meters wide. Eight 50-liter-capacity barrels, or five 200-liter-capacity barrels, laid on their sides, will constitute the base. One hundred and fifty 50-liter-capacity barrels or eighty 200-liter-capacity barrels are necessary for the erection of the wall.
This "iron curtain" can be used as a barricade during a period of public work in the street, or to transform the street into a dead end. Finally its principle can be extended to a whole area or an entire city.