Oscar-nominee, photographer and street artist; JR’s talents are boundless. Dubbed "the hippest street artist since Banksy" by The Times, JR describes himself as a "photograffeur", using photography as his medium and graffiti as his method.
His giant monochrome outdoor portraits of local people adorn some of the world's least desirable neighbourhoods. JR's gallery works are meticulously composed, dramatic and often exotic renditions of these giant pasted portraits in situ. The work celebrates the timeless indomitability of the human spirit, and a rapidly accelerating pan-national culture. The initial portraits are also usually taken by himself, printed digitally in black and white and posted using wheatpaste. These ambitious projects are entirely self-funded - "you wouldn't take it the same way if I did it with L'Oreal", he told The Guardian newspaper in 2010.
The artist’s ‘street’ projects have continuously evolved, from pasting on the street, to starting his GIANT series in 2016. The artist began the series after he was commissioned to create a variety of large-scale installations for the Rio de Janeiro Olympic Games. JR took the challenge in stride and soon, giant sculptures of athletes that didn’t make it to the Olympics popped up all over the city. This project was further explored at his 2018 exhibition, GIANTS – Body of Work, where the artist created a ‘behind the scenes’ look at the thought-process and architecture behind the work.
Wrinkles of the City (2008) was another major project wherein his portraits of seniors were displayed in Cartagena, Spain. The initiative showed an evolution in how JR displayed his work, incorporating the weathered architecture of Cartegena within his final public compositions. Artistically, Wrinkles of the City served as a reminder of the symbiotic relationship between people and places, in an era of isolated lifestyles within environments teeming with our fellow man. Wrinkles of the City has extended to Los Angeles, Shanghai and Havana, where the images were further embellished by the work of famed Cuban-American street artist José Parla.
The Unframed project (2014) saw JR use archive photography in startling public contexts. For example, in 2009 a photograph from the Chernobyl nuclear disaster was displayed in Grottaglie, Italy to highlight the Mafia's illegal dumping of toxic waste in the area. The city of Vevey, Switzerland was plastered with photographs from Lausanne's Musee d'Elysée, presenting historical imagery in a poignant and sometimes contrasting light.
JR has travelled the world with his artwork, and there’s many projects and exhibitions that could be mentioned. However, Women are Heroes (2008-9) really changed the art world's perception of the artist. This project involved portraits of locals in the lawless favella Morro da Providencia, many of whom were the mothers, sisters and daughters of men caught up in the ongoing crime wars that dominate life in the Rio di Janeiro slums. The landmark work Tree of Providencia (2009) was created during this dangerous exercise (journalists are banned, and Non-Governmental Organisations do not work in Morro di Providencia). Women are Heroes also incorporated a delegation to Kiberia in Kenya, where JR covered 2000 square metres of corrugated rooftops with images of impoverished and often starving female refugees. The initiative has also travelled to Liberia, India, Sierra Leone, and Cambodia.
Born in Paris, France 1983
Lives and works in Paris
Selected Solo Exhibitions
2017 Chroniques de Clichy-Montfermeil, Palais de Tokyo, France
2017 Projection Wrinkles of the City Istanbul, Galerie Perrotin, France
2017 JR's GIANT "Kikito", Mexican/US border
2017 The Wrinkles of the City, Istanbul – Body of Work, Springmann Gallery, Germany
2016 JR's GIANTS Project in Rio de Janeiro for the Olympics, Brazil
2016 Temporary installation, JR at the Louvre, Musée du Louvre, France
2016 Projet pour la Galerie des enfants, Centre Pompidou, France
2015 UPRISING: An Inside Out Project, CAC Malaga
2015 Crossing, Lazarides Rathbone, London
2015 JR: A Survey Exhibition, HOCA, Hong Kong
2015 Ghosts of Ellis Islands, Galerie Perrotin, Hong Kong
2014 Inside Out, Power Station of Art, Shanghai
2014 Close Up, Magda Danysz Gallery, Shanghai
2014 The Wrinkles of the City Berlin, Frieder Burda Museum, Baden Baden
2013 Actions, Lazarides Rathbone, London
2013 The Wrinkles of the City, Sringman Gallery, Berlin
2013 Quartier Creatifs, Belle de Mai, Marseille
2013 The Wrinkles of the City Havana, Bryce Wolkowitz Gallery, New York
2013 Pervasive Art, Contemporary Art Center, Cincinnati
2010 Shanghai Biennale, Shanghai Art Museum, Shanghai
Selected group exhibitions
2010 Eurotrash, Lazarides Off-Site, LA
2010 Terminal 5, Lazarides Rathbone, London
2010 Unframed, Visual Arts Festival, Vevey
2010 Viva la Revolucion : A Dialogue with the Urban Landscape, Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego, San Diego
2009 Grifters, Lazarides Rathbone, London
2009 Grow Up, Lazarides Rathbone, London
2009 The Outsiders Selection, The Outsiders Newcastle, Newcastle
2008 The Outsiders New York, The Outsiders Off-Site, New York