An innovative and newly unveiled piece of street art by French photographer JR makes Paris’ iconic Eiffel Tower look like it hovers above a giant canyon.
As a French newspaper The world reports, JR created the optical illusion illusion at Trocadéro, an assortment of museums, sculptures, gardens and fountains in front of the Parisian landmark. The public art exhibit, which opened on May 19, will remain in place for a month. His installation arrived ahead of the June 4 opening of a mid-career retrospective, “JR Chronicles,” at London’s Saatchi Gallery.
“[I]It’s really cool because it’s really realistic,” visitor Lara Watson told Reuters last month. “I like that it combines with the Eiffel Tower, so it’s a work of art because of the Eiffel Tower already behind it.”
The cleverly deceptive illusion uses a black and white photographic collage to create the appearance of a large ravine. Since its opening, the eye-catching work has provided the perfect backdrop for viewers eager to photograph themselves pretending to leap through the canyon, scale the rocks or fall down the ravine, writes Sarah Cascone for Artnet News.
Born in France in 1983, the artist known as JR began to hone his skills as a teenager, when he painted graffiti on the streets of Paris. (Speaking with the Guardian(‘s Elizabeth Day in 2010, JR explained that the nickname refers to his initials but refused to reveal his full name.) After discovering a camera in the Paris metro, the young JR also developed an interest in photography. Today, the artist combines the two mediums by installing large format black and white photographs in public spaces.
In 2016, JR created an equally strange illusion in another Parisian monument: the Louvre. According to Nina Azzarello of Designboomthe artist attached an image of the museum’s lavish building to IM Pei’s 71-foot-tall glass pyramid, making the structure appear to have vanished.
“The truth is, my work is about the interaction between people,” JR told APTN at the time, as quoted by CBS Los Angeles’ Katie Johnston. “…That’s how I [decided] to make it disappear from this exact spot, because that’s where everyone comes to take a selfie with their backs to the monument.
Earlier this year, JR unveiled another trompe l’oeil at the Palazzo Strozzi in Florence. Title La Feritaor The injurythe 92-by-108-foot installation features a collage of artwork housed inside the Renaissance palace, expertly placed to simulate a gaping gash in the building’s facade.
“Without being able to enter a museum, attend a concert or spend time in an exhibition, you realize that it is culture that gives color to life and that the beauty of our city is activated by the people who go through it,” JR told CNN Style’s Leah Dolan in March.
If the Saatchi show and the Eiffel Tower installation are any indication, JR has no plans to slow down anytime soon. The exhibition, billed as the largest solo exhibition of works by the artist to date, according to the art diaryby Gareth Harris—builds on a previous exhibition at the Brooklyn Museum and showcases some of JR’s most iconic projects over the past 15 years.
Next, JR seems to be heading to the pyramids of Giza, where he will collaborate with Art d’Egypte on a project that has yet to be revealed.
“It’s not a photomontage”, writes the artist on Instagram, “but the October work could be a photocollage”.