MUCA Hall Ground Floor
Born in 1983 in the outskirts of Paris, JR became interested in street culture at an early age. At the age of 14, he was already spraying graffiti under thename “Face 3”. He found a new focus at the age of 17 when he took part in a photography course and happened to find a camera in the Charles de Gaulle metro station that a tourist had forgotten. He quickly found a favourite subject: graffiti sprayers in action. He stuck the photos on street walls, framed them in paint and labelled them “Expo de Rue”. JR thus became his own curator. He discovered that his photos had a stronger emotional effect than his graffiti. He also realised that what you do with photos is important. From this thought, JR developed socially critical projects on a larger scale and on an international level.
JR started his first major project, “Portrait of a Generation”, in 2005 as a reaction to the riots in the Paris suburbs. To create the project, he produced the short film “Clichés de Ghetto” with his friend Ladj Ly. He photographed the funny grimaces of his friends from these districts, who ironically played with their presentation in the media. JR hung these portraits in large format in the posh districts. Through the contrast, he moved passers-by to question the media presence of these troublemakers.
The action in Paris laid the foundation for JR’s further way of working. In 2007, Face 2 Face, his largest illegal exhibition, followed as a reaction to the Middle East conflict. JR took close-up portraits of people from Israel and Palestine who belonged to the same professional group and hung them next to each other in eight cities in Israel and Palestine. Most of the faces had so many similarities that viewers could not tell them apart.
JR brings art to places where there are no museums. This is also the case with his “Women Are Heroes” project, which still adorns the roofs of the Kibera slum in Nairobi and the facades of houses in the poor districts of Rio de Janeiro. With this project, JR wants to draw attention to the central role and value of women in society. He photographed the women in their everyday environment.
Since 2008, JR has been presenting the project “The Wrinkles of the City” in different cities around the world, such as Shanghai, Los Angeles or Berlin. The works show large-format photos of people who have experienced life. JR enhances the human “wrinkles” by choosing an architectural setting and backgrounds that also have a “wrinkled” structure. Often his faces look down in black and white from the walls of dilapidated houses or even walls composed of individual stones. The aim of the project: symbolically bring on the walls the history of those who have witnessed social change and historical changes in cities.
At MUCA, the work “Mr. Ma” can be seen in the “Icons of Urban Art” exhibition from the project series “The Wrinkles of the City”. A photo print created in China in 2010, which was glued onto a corrugated sheet.
Come and see JR’s famous work live with us. You can book an entry ticket here.
MUCA will also become part of the Inside Out project in the fall of 2022.
JR created the Giants project for the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro: A series of monumental photo installations on scaffolding. They did not show the world-famous athletes of the competitions, but lesser-known athletes. JR continued to expand these installations stretched out on scaffolding. The work “Brandenburg Gate” also belongs to the series. JR covered the Brandenburg Gate with archive photos of the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 on scaffolding.
In 2013, JR realised his project “Wrinkles of the City” on the walls of Berlin, often on station buildings or large old industrial halls. For example, his “wrinkled” faces look out over the capital from the Warschauer Straße S-Bahn station building or the buildings on the AEG site in Gustav-Meyer-Allee.
As part of a retrospective exhibition on JR at the Frieda Burda Museum, the artist brought the project “Unframed” to the Baden-Baden city space in 2014. For Unframed, he used photos from archives and private photo albums of well-known and unknown photographers. In Baden-Baden, he thematises Franco-German history and friendship in his public works.
For the three-day civic festival on the occasion of German Unity Day 2018, JR designed the Brandenburg Gate with a huge photo installation as part of its “Giants” project.
JR’s work has also been exhibited at the Louvre and the Palais de Tokyo. In addition to his photographic work, he created his own ballet piece, Les Bosquets, with the New York City Ballet, and made several films, including Moments, which was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature in 2018.
Museum of Urban and Contemporary Art (MUCA)