[Exclusive] JR to unveil new, bigger Louvre project
Speaking at his first Seoul exhibition, 'photograffeur' talks about how his work interacts with public, upcoming installation in Paris
Published : Jan 17, 2019 - 18:10
Updated : Jan 17, 2019 - 18:37
French photographer and artist JR will unveil a new project at the Louvre Museum in Paris in the last week of March.

In Seoul for his first solo photo exhibition at Galerie Perrotin in downtown Seoul, JR told The Korea Herald on Thursday that the upcoming project, which will be much larger in scale than his previous project at the Louvre, will be completed in collaboration with visitors to the site. The artist and the visitors will be painting in the Louvre’s plaza to create one gigantic black-and-white image. Details about the upcoming project and information about registration will soon be announced through his official homepage, JR said.

JR= French photographer and artist JR stands next to “Giants, Brandenburg Gate” at Galerie Perrotin in central Seoul, Thursday. (By Kim Hye-soo/The Korea Herald)

The artist, who describes himself as a “photograffeur,” a word that combines the words photographer and graffiti, gained a reputation over the past 15 years by filling urban and natural landscapes with his large black-and-white photographic collages. Some 11 works showing his site-specific installations are on display at the Seoul exhibition, which runs from Jan. 17 to March 9.

Some eight pieces, including blueprints and photos of his May 2016 project at the Louvre, are on display on the first floor of the gallery. Recalling the installation, the pieces illustrate the process the artist used to make the iconic I.M. Pei glass pyramid temporarily disappear.

Covered by a large tarp featuring a black-and-white image of the Clock Pavilion, the pyramid disappears when viewed from a precise spot, revealing the structure immediately behind the pyramid.

“JR at the Louvre, La Pyramide” (By Kim Hye-soo/The Korea Herald)

“I saw people coming from around the world to see the pyramid. But … they turned their backs to the pyramid and took selfies,” said JR to explain why he began the project. “That’s why I wanted to make it disappear. People then came, looking forward at the pyramid to find the spot where they can perfectly see the structure behind the pyramid. That was my intention, interaction with the public and the museum.”

The artist also revealed some secrets within his work. In the print image of the Clock Pavilion, JR hid little details among the multiple statues standing on the balcony of the pavilion for interaction: Some statues are holding objects that are not part of the originals, such as brush or a squeegee.

Among the three works depicted on the third floor of Galerie Perrotin is his 2017 installation in Death Valley in California. A monumental black-and-white photograph that at a precise spot perfectly matches the surrounding mountainous landscape was created in collaboration with the Canadian rock band Arcade Fire for the cover of its album “Everything Now.”

“Giants, Death Valley, Billboard” (

The installation of the structure was a rough process, according to JR. The artist had to buy the land to install the piece, had to move the art because the installation went over the property line by a few inches and even had people shooting at the work for no reason. Even though JR wanted to keep the original artwork, only the photo remains now.

The piece also included a detail to attract more people and to create interaction: a phone.

“The phone installed on the structure has a number. When people call that number, the person at the site will answer the phone. Then the sound of the two people talking will come out through the installed speaker,” making their voices boom loud in the desert, JR said.

By Kim Hye-soo (