What is the Cost of Beautiful Photographic JR Art Pieces?
The street art poet, photograffeur, fighter for social justice and humanity, activist and artist, creative soul and much more can be summed up in two short letters, which meaning remains unknown. JR art did the unimaginable by turning the work of photography into street art, and thus evoked a completely new way of conveying a social and humane message through an artistic manner. His art knows no boundaries, from the forbidden undergrounds and roofs of Paris, to the slums of Brazil, walls of Middle East, China, broken bridges in Africa and even buses, stairways and aquaducts, the adventurous spirit of JR reached almost all corners of the globe. His artistic acts are heavily socially engaged, dealing with the issues of identity, freedom, responsibility and existence. JR managed to portray the street and life captured through a photographic lens in such a unique and genuine way which simply cannot be ignored by anyone.
In 2011, JR won the TED Prize for an acknowledgement to the extraordinary individuals who strive towards changing the world for the better. The prize includes a financial leveraging of $100,000 behind a powerful idea which would essentially change the world for the better. It also leads to collaborative initiatives with far-reaching impact. Liu Bolin, Takashi Murakami, VHILS, BLU, and even Pharell Williams, Hans Zimmer and Woodkid, are just some of the artists who have already collaborated with the amazing JR. The anonymous artist has successfully established a unique model based around financial freedom and autonomy. He mostly turns down offers of corporate sponsorship, categorically refusing support from brands, institutions and NGOs. He even went further than that, JR actually donated the TED Prize money to a foundation he created which runs social programs in the disadvantaged places he has worked in. Instead, he funded his worldwide project Inside Out just by selling six photographs for $850,000. The artist clearly does not focus on getting the maximum financial gain out of his work, but rather manipulates the art market to serve his purposes, where his gallery shows come by as a means to an end. This approach may seem unprofitable, but as a matter of fact, JR’s works have reached a total sell through rate of almost 80%, garnering $594,051 in turnover. So, what are some of the most iconic pieces created by the prolific French artist? Scroll down and check out the top 10 most expensive pieces by JR sold in auctions!
Face 2 Face
Created as part of the largest illegal photography exhibition ever, Face 2 Face was a project of JR and Marco which featured portraits of Israelis and Palestinians pasted face to face in monumental formats in various Palestinian and Israeli cities. In an attempt to make the nations realize they are all essentially the same, the two artists took funny portraits of farmers, taxi drivers, teachers and humans from every side of the spectrum, and brought them together, next to each other, and amazingly enough, the pictures were put up on both sides of the security wall separating Israel and Palestina. In this unique project from 2007, JR and Marco wished to make a clear message in a very sensitive context, yearning for a solution in which the two opposing countries and nations could live in peace and harmony, bringing out the positive outlook on the current situation.
Ladj Ly. Montfermeil, Les Bosquets
“I help people to enlarge their story, that’s the whole idea of my work.” This statement by JR absolutely rings true, especially in such examples of his work as Ladj Ly. Montfermeil, Les Bosquets. The poignancy of the entire project created in Les Bosquets lay in the fact that it gave a face to the individuals from the ravaged neighborhood. Working with a wide 28mm lens, JR listened to the locals’ suggestion to take pictures of them, and he encouraged them to get up close. The photographs resulted with caricatured portraits that expressed humor, sadness, visceral reality and an intimate feel. The stunning pictures humanized and demystified individuals who are often marginalized in their community. This image of Ladj Ly was taken in 2004, when JR was only 18 years old, and it still represents a very emblematic and important piece of his oeuvre. Other version of the image has been sold for a higher price, but this was the original, click here to check out other available pieces of JR.
This particular photograph features a worker in an attempt to remove one of JR’s artistic pieces from a wall in Paris. The destroyed piece belonged to one of the first JR’s known works entitled Portrait of Generation. Various provincial “thugs” were captured by JR’s camera and pasted up in large formats across the bourgeois part of the city. Even though the project later became official and was accepted by the Paris City Hall, at first it was just another illegal endeavor by the furtive artist. The photograph bares symbolism of two opposing spectrums, the illegal street art and the punishing authorities, also reminding us of the inevitable fate of ephemerality in urban art.
28 Millimetres : Women are Heroes, Eye on Bricks, New Delhi, India
In his project Women are Heroes, part of his broader 29 Millimetres work, JR celebrated the strength and courage of the women in various communities. This photograph shows his piece made in New Delhi, where the artist transferred an image of a woman’s eyes into a wall of bricks, one brick at a time. Once again, the wide-angle 28mm lens captured close-up photographs of women’s faces, which were then displayed publicly in slums of the communities.
28 Millimeters : Women Are Heroes - Bus sur le pont de Bo City en Sierra Leone
JR is an artist who does not shudder away from the risky, illegal or abandoned locations to display his art at. Walls around the world, subways, ruined buildings, slums and posh areas have all been the background for his though-provoking art. 28 Millimeters, Women Are Heroes – Bus sur le pont de Bo City en Sierra Leone is an exquisite example of how far his creative force reaches when it comes to sending a message. The photograph features a bus adorned with the iconic image of a woman hero’s eyes by JR, traveling across a bridge in Sierra Leone. This mobile version of JR’s artwork proves that his global gallery is limitless and goes beyond any border.
The Wrinkles of the City, Action in Shanghai, Zhao Liying de Jour, Chine
The world scale project called The Wrinkles of the City saw JR doing portraits of elderly people who represent the memory of the city he chose for its interesting past. What the photographs aimed to reflect was the changes and the inevitable passing of time which affect both the infrastructure and the inhabitants. This time, JR focused his attention on the heritage of the place and the heritage of the elders which is to be passed on to the younger generations. Poetic, social and above all – human way of portraying the passing of time and the toll it takes upon the skin of humans, and the walls of the cities. In 2010, the project was brought to Shanghai, where this pasting was created.
Carl in Silverlake, Vertical from the series Wrinkles of the City: Los Angeles
After Cartagena and Shanghai, JR took Wrinkles of the City to the second largest city in the United States – Los Angeles. However, this iteration of the project saw a somewhat different approach of the creator. Instead of the previous message of witnessing the changes that have occurred in the city or the lives within it, this time the focus was on opposition of the wrinkles of the old people against the Hollywood myth of glamour, beauty and perfection. The marks of the past visible on the aged faces are becoming a rarity in the plastic surgery-obsessed society, so JR is opposing the modern cultural and social barriers by displaying the true and genuine faces against the fake, plastic ones which have become a norm nowadays.
Street Kid, Favela Morro da Providencia, Rio de Janeiro, Brasil
Pervasive art of JR has found its way to the walls in the Middle-East, slums around Paris, broken bridges in Africa and favelas in Brazil. Piece named Street Kid, Favela Morro da Providencia, Rio de Janeiro, Brasil depicts a young boy from the infamous favelas of Rio de Janeiro. The image shows the poor conditions of living in such areas, where the children’s suffering is perhaps the greatest. These poverty-stricken areas produce a breeding ground for crime and illegal life, where even kids are forced into it at an early age. Once more, JR’s lens brings the focus to the themes of utter importance and significance which are often disregarded by the authorities and public.
Wrinkles of the City (Marino Saura Oton), Cartagena, Spain
This worldwide project representing precious relics of the passage of time, dubbed Los Surcos de la Ciudad in Spanish, landed to Cartagena in Spain. The town’s oldest inhabitants had the opportunity to become JR’s models for the epic project Wrinkles of the City. Civil war-scarred faces of men stand on the historical facades, embodying the tears made by violence, time and conflict upon our lives. The wrinkles, both human and architectural, are often earned through a tumultuous process, remaining as a testament to our past. JR made this piece in 2008 as part of the ongoing world-scale project.
Entrance Stairs of Favela Morro da Provedencia, Rio de Janeiro, Brasil
The overflowing reports of kidnapping and murder in the favelas of Rio moved JR to visit the country and get closer to the actual suffering and experiences of the people beyond the surface of the standard reportage. In 2008, the artist arrived to Rio where he created one of his most iconic pieces on the entrance stairs of Favela Morro da Provedencia. The piece became the center of a project which saw the entire hillside town covered with images of women gazing serenely upon the city of Rio de Janeiro. The location of the piece also bares major significance since it is pasted onto the central staircase of the town, which represents the main artery between the army at the bottom and the antagonists at the top. The portrait shows an elderly woman who has obviously experienced a lifetime of horror and atrocities and still manages to retain some sense of melancholic defiance and humanity. It is this symbolism that is crucial in JR’s work, the tribute to human spirit and its prevalence against the hardships, JR captures these images which serve as monuments to optimism and hope in spite of the suffering.
All images used for illustrative purposes only