Born in 1983 in Paris.
JR has the biggest art gallery in the world. He exhibits freely in the streets, and it brings him to the attention of people who don’t usually go to museums. His work mixes art and action and is concerned with commitment, freedom, identity and boundaries. After he found a camera in the Paris metro in 2001, he used it to explore the universe of urban art before putting it to work on the vertical boundaries, in forbidden basements and on Paris roofs.
In 2006, he created Portrait of a Generation, portraits of young people from the banlieue housing projects, which he displayed in super-large format in rich districts of Paris. This illegal project became official when the Municipality of Paris posted JR’s photos on its own buildings. In 2007, with Marco, he realised Face 2 Face, the largest illegal photo exhibition ever created. JR posted huge portraits of Israelis and Palestinians, face to face, in eight Palestinian and Israeli cities and on either side of the dividing security wall. In 2008, he set off on a long international odyssey for a project on the dignity of women. And in the same period, he set up the project Wrinkles of the City, recounting the history and the memory of a country through the wrinkles of its inhabitants, after showing his work to the Arles’ public in 2007. In 2010, his film Women are Heroes was a contender at the Cannes Film Festival for the Caméra d’Or. In 2011, he was awarded the lucrative Ted Prize. His reaction was to state his “desire to change the world” – a project involving everyone and anyone in a large-format poster project to convey their message. The first country, to date, where an action like this has already been undertaken is Tunisia.
JR creates ‘infiltrating art’, which gets posted uninvited. People who often live with the bare minimum discover in it something totally superfluous. And they don’t just look at it, they get involved. Old ladies become models for a day, kids turn into artists for a week. In artistic action of this sort, there is no stage to separate the actors from the audience. After the local exhibitions, the images get taken to New York, Berlin, Paris or Amsterdam, where people interpret them in the light of their own experience. Since he remains anonymous and doesn’t explain his gigantic, grimacing portraits, JR leaves ample space for encounter between subject as actor and passer-by as interpreter. JR’s work consists of asking questions.
A selection of his last exhibitions (2013): Lazarides Rathbone, London; Unseen Photo Fair, Amsterdam; Contemporary Arts Center, Cincinnati; Bryce Arts Center, New York; La Friche Belle de Mai, Marseille; Springmann Gallery, Berlin; Musée Watari-Um, Tokyo…
JR presented his work at the Rencontres d’Arles in 2007: 28 millimeters, Portrait of a generation // Face2Face at the Atelier des Forges and in 2011: Inside Out at the Grande Halle. JR also took part in the collective exhibition Madame la Présidente at the Magasin Electrique.