Can you imagine what would happen if one of the greatest landmarks of your hometown disappeared? Can you think of the confusion? The comments people would give? The immense change of the city’s landscape? That is what is happening to Paris right now, as JR makes the Louvre Pyramid disappear! The French artist whose name we don’t know and who describes himself as a photograffeur has set his eyes on the “biggest museum in the world” and decided to transform its symbolic glass pyramid through his masterful usage of optical illusion. The Pyramid will not appear in the selfies and vlogs of numerous tourists that visit the city of light, which will surely inspire a vibrant discussion and myriad of conversations among them. JR is in the process of covering the landmark with monumental black and white photographs of the 16th-century building that surrounds the Pyramid in a trompe l’oeil exhibition that will last for a month.
The artist has stated that he realised that people no longer look at the important buildings and works of art but turn their backs to them instead, in order to take a selfie, vlog, or create some other self-centered multimedia product. What he is interested in is how people will react to the Pyramid when it no longer looks like itself when it’s no longer a symbol, or just a pretty glass structure, but when it depicts something completely different. The piece will make people notice the absence of the Pyramid they are used to seeing, and it will inspire them to walk around and talk to each other in order to find that perfect angle where they can see the piece as it should be. The meeting point where all of them will collect is a symbol of union and tolerance, a place where race, religion, sexual preference, and political views perish at the power of the astounding work of art which does just what it is supposed to do – connects people and erases the differences between them.
JR, an artist whose name we are yet to learn, will not, for the first time, show portraits in his work. The 33-year-old artist is known for pasting large-scale photos of faces around the world, on buildings, sidewalks, stairs, etc. He has, with his art, enriched the streets and walls in China, Brazil, Cuba, Sierra Leone, USA, and of course, his homeland of France. He is an artist who seeks to find that red thread that connects people around the world, no matter how thin it is. His art is bonding people, inspiring inquisitiveness, search for meaning, and the pursuit of tolerance and love, it is sociological as much as it is artistic. His series entitled Women Are Heroes took JR to Brazil, India, Cambodia, Kenya, Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Sudan, where he pasted details of his portraits of local women in Rio de Janeiro’s favela Morro da Providência. JR’s work is inspiring wherever it is, whether in the slums of Kenya or the urban surroundings of New York. It always strikes the right chord with the audience and prompts meaningful dialogue.
For the JR at the Louvre exhibition, which will be on display until June 27th, a crew of six people has spent a few days pasting the big photographs over the Pyramid which is comprised of over 700 glass parts. They covered it with the picture of the building behind the Pyramid, making it disappear and blend into the background. JR stated that he hopes this exhibition and the “disappearance” of the landmark will spark the debate on modernism, which split the French society in the 1980s when the glass structure was built. The burning debate was over whether the glass and metal building will ruin the architecture of the 16th century, but later became one of the most photographed monuments in Paris and a celebration of the Parisian modernity. JR at the Louvre will be quite a show as the artist will host the 24-hour takeover of the Louvre on May 28th at 3 PM. A number of events will be organised, such as the workshops, magic shows, screenings, and a concert by Nils Frahm and Ólafur Arnalds, and even the artist Daniel Buren, the filmmaker Agnès Varda, model Cara Delevigne, and the rock band Arcade Fire will participate in these events.
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