Text of Paul Laster
Most people have seen the work of the celebrated French artist JR, even if they don’t know it. His rooftop mural of a giant pair of engaging eyes is impossible to miss from the terraces of New York’s Whitney Museum of American Art, nearly 20 million viewers tuned in to watch U2 perform in front of this dynamic photo during the 2018 Grammy Awards and the 2018 Oscar-
International Archives 1st half of 2018
Using the power of paper and glue, JR made the leap to the international stage in 2007, when he and a friend traveled to Israel and Palestine to document the conflict with his project Face 2 Face. Making close-
Over the next two years, he took the project global by creating actions in Africa and Asia, while displaying his powerful pictures at a massive scale on walls, bridges and rooftops in Europe and the U.S. No one had ever seen public art at this level, or with such a noble purpose. Giving a voice to the powerless, getting face to face with them, JR digitally diced up his pictures to print in sections, which made them applicable to all kinds of surfaces—from the sides of trucks and buses, to the tops of moving trains.
JR also began his ongoing Wrinkles of the City project that same year. Photographing the elderly people who had witnessed the dramatic upheavals of their urban environments, JR wove their images into the fabric of the place. Pasting their jumbo likenesses on crumbling walls and industrial areas of such cities as Shanghai, Havana, and Los Angeles, he gave praise to the inhabitants who had survived tough times.
Upon winning the TED Prize, JR initiated Inside Out, a participatory art project that allows people to have their photo taken and then paste it to promote an idea, action or project that they support. Since its inception, more than 300,000 portraits have been pasted in 140 countries—with photo booths taking the project to unpredictable places.
In New York, Inside Out actions have occupied Times Square and The High Line, and in 2014 JR collaborated with the New York City Ballet to create life-
The issue of immigration was also on JR’s mind in 2017, when he constructed a billboard-
Although the artist has had nearly 60 solo shows in cultural capitals worldwide, New Yorkers have long anticipated a broad presentation of JR’s work, and with this exhibition at Perrotin New York, the wait is happily over.
Solo shows of JR’s work have been exhibited in galleries and museums worldwide, including The Rath Museum in Geneva, Tokyo’s Watari Museum, The Contemporary Art Museum in Dallas, The Contemporary Arts Center in Cincinnati, the Museum Frieder Burda in Baden-
Exhibition June 28 -
© ArtCatalyse International / Marika Prévosto 2018. All Rights Reserved
JR, GIANTS, Kikito, September 7, 2017, 10:03 am, Tecate, Mexico, USA (32.579458, -
Starting out as an artist on the streets of Paris when he was still a teen, JR rose to international acclaim when he won the coveted TED Prize for his socially active art in 2011. The innovative work that won him the prize partially came about through chance. Discovering an abandoned camera in one of the city’s Metro stations at age 17, he added photography to his creative talents when he began documenting his friends while they were tagging.
Employing the wheat pasting technique of street artists like Banksy, Shepard Fairey and Swoon, JR ambitiously started making “Sidewalk Gallery” exhibitions of his photographs, which soon grew larger-
Wanting to rectify the unfair coverage of the neighborhood, JR photographed its young people, whom the media had been portrayed as riotous radicals, in more playful poses. He strategically posted his portraits in bourgeois areas of the city and on the walls of art centers, which made such an impact that he was soon invited to wrap the city hall of Paris with his imagery. It was then that JR began to believe that art could change the world.
JR, Mind the Gap, 2017. Electric trains, rails, stainless steel. 210 x 250 cm © Stéphane Aboudaram | WE ARE CONTENT(S)