Inauguration of Au Panthéon
The dome of Paris’ Pantheon is undergoing renovation and for the first time a tarpaulin construction became the medium of artistic creation. The time has come to reveal JR’s spectacular participatory art project Au Panthéon, the artwork created specifically for the famous monument in Paris and for the glory of universal values with the thousands of photos of people from around the world.
Getting People into the Pantheon
Last October, the President of the Centre des Monuments Nationaux, Philippe Bélaval, presented the President of the French Republic with a report on the role of the Pantheon in promoting the values of the Republic. The title of this report was “Getting people into the Pantheon” and it contains suggestions on how to encourage French people to truly identify with it. In order to give concrete form of this proposal, the CMN has chosen to ask JR to carry out a worldwide project embodying the values of the world’s most famous mausoleum. The late eighteenth century building was originally built as a church dedicated to St. Genevieve, and during the Revolution was converted into Pantheon which functions as a secular mausoleum containing the remains of distinguished French citizens. “I called JR because it seems that his participatory and humanistic approach echoes the values held by the Pantheon,” Bélaval explained.
Art instead of Ads
For the first time the worksite hoardings installed around a national monument were used to present a contemporary artistic venture instead of a lucrative advertising campaign. Renowned for the highly symbolic value of his participatory projects, JR has brilliantly managed to encapsulate the humanistic and universal dimension of the Pantheon. The concept he has created for this project was to collect individual portraits from all over the world on a dedicated website www.au-pantheon.fr or through JR’s itinerant photo booth truck that traveled around France to find people who want a place in the building that houses the remains of Victor Hugo, Voltaire, and Marie Curie, among others.
Diversity of the Modern World
The portraits which best represented the diversity of the modern world were then selected to compose a mosaic. This one-of-a-kind mosaic is, starting from today, placed on the outside of drum beneath the dome and on certain parts within the monument. This unique and giant artwork can now be seen from all over Paris and remains in situ during the entire restoration.
The First great Neoclassical Monument
Last but not least, there is another important goal of this project besides promoting artistic creation and humanistic values. It is assumed that the international visibility given by the work of JR will attract the eye of patrons, since there is no budget for the second phase of restoration that began in 2013. We sincerely hope that this will be the case since the Pantheon in Paris is one of the most important architectural achievements of its time and the first great neoclassical monument.