Museums are vital in the preservation and celebration of history. So it’s no wonder that there are 55,000 museums around the world. A handful of these institutions are known throughout the world, and among them is the Louvre Museum. In 2019, the Louvre Museum celebrated their 30th anniversary. And to mark this special milestone, popular French street artist JR was tapped to create a spectacle for the iconic museum. And he truly lived up to the honor.
So, JR is a photographer and street artist rolled in one. He actually calls himself a “photograffeur”, which is clever amalgamation of the words “photography” and “graffiti”. But before becoming JR, he debuted in the French street art scene under the moniker ‘Face 3’. However, his perception towards street art changed after he chanced upon a camera left behind at the subway. Thanks to this happy accident, he began dabbling in photography. Later, when riots broke out, JR documented the rioters and later pasted large prints of their faces around the city and this was how his unique art was born.
French street artist JR created a spectacular optical illusion for the Louvre Museum’s 30th Anniversary
For the museum’s 30th anniversary, JR placed 2,000 sheets of paper around the Louvre. And with these 2,000 sheets of paper, he successfully managed to magnify and make the glass pyramid look as though it were rising from a rock quarry. The optical illusion was so great that everyone in Paris seemed to want to see it.
It is worth noting that this isn’t the first time that JR has worked his “photograffeur” magic on the Louvre. In 2016, he made the Louvre disappear by covering the pyramid with mono photo prints. But instead of covering the Louvre again, JR decided to work his magic around it. Perfectly laying 2,000 sheets of paper across an expanse of 183,000-square-feet or 17,000 square meters is no easy feat, but luckily, JR had a lot of help. From 800 hands, in fact!
Shortly after the installation was finished, JR shared a photo of it through his Instagram. So, naturally, curious spectators immediately flocked to see for themselves the spectacle JR and his volunteers had created. However, the droves of people coming to see the installation soon became a problem. With thousands of feet walking over them, the paper began to disintegrate.
The disintegration of JR’s installation was a message
A lot of people could not believe how quickly the installation began to disintegrate. But JR took a more philosophical approach to the event. The artist took to Twitter to express his thoughts regarding the matter:
“The images, like life, are ephemeral. Once pasted, the art piece lives on its own. The sun dries the light glue and with every step, people tear pieces of the fragile paper. The process is all about the participation of volunteers, visitors, and souvenir catchers.”
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The images, like life, are ephemeral. Once pasted, the art piece lives on its own. The sun dries the light glue and with every step, people tear pieces of the fragile paper. The process is all about participation of volunteers, visitors, and souvenir catchers. This project is also about presence and absence, about reality and memories, about impermanence. #JRauLouvre
JR paid tribute to a friend through his Louvre installation
The ephemeral installation also became an unexpected tribute when a dear friend of JR passed away while the artist was in the middle of piecing his work together. This friend was 90 year old filmmaker Agnes Varda. She and JR had collaborated in the 2017 film “Faces, Places” and this movie scored her an Oscar nomination. The nomination itself was historic because it made her the oldest person to vie for a competitive Oscar. They remained close friends after their collaboration and it seemed that the sad news reached the artist because he wrote,
“I finished this one for you Agnes Varda, you loved people, pasting and illusion… I am sure you can see it.”
You can see the full message to Agnes on the Instagram post below
JR certainly created something truly iconic. From its mindblowing presentation, shocking disintegration and wise message, this French street artist has truly lived up to the honor that the Louvre bestowed upon him.
Source: Instagram JR