Grandlife guide


back to list

JR is an artist who got his start on the streets of Paris and now can be seen all over the world. With an impressive Instagram following, gallery representation and connections including celebrities such as Alicia Keys and Robert De Niro, not to mention various prestigious awards and nominations for his documentary Places Faces, JR has a particular level of visibility that not many artists have. That said, perhaps one of the most interesting aspects of his work is that it lives in the public sphere, intended to endure the elements and often has a very unique way of reflecting the place where it’s been installed. Currently on view at Galerie Perrotin is Horizontal a multimedia exhibition providing a peek into, as well as documentation of, the artist’s practice.

Most of what JR does in the public sphere is made using wheat-paste, a medium that has been employed by street artists for decades. He often uses human subjects. People he’s met in each respective city, and then finds ways to divide facial features and reassemble them utilizing local architecture. In dialogue with street art, JR, through his relationship with the gallery, is able to work on a monumental scale, accessing buildings and places many others would never have the chance to occupy.

“I started taking photos of my friends doing graffiti when I was 17 years old,” says JR. “Around that time, riots started happening in France in the neighborhood where we’d hang out. A big media agency contacted me because I had a different level of access to the riots, and in that moment I decided to be an artist,” he recalls. “I told them they could use my footage only if portraits I took of the community and the wheat-pasting we did were featured [prominently] along with the film coverage. Six months later they came back, asking me if they could publish the portraits, and it was the first time my work was explained in a cohesive, visual context.”

In Horizontal, the artist unveils various projects he’s made over the years, documented through scale models, photography and film. Through cinematography, perhaps his strongest medium, he captures various site-specific projects he’s made over the course of a decade, also creating and nurturing a narrative. The story of each of his films, shown in a loop, reveals more about his wheat-pasting and photography in a way that feels extremely inclusive. JR’s work is truly geared towards the public and an open-air environment. The exhibition at Galerie Perrotin is curated for collectors and fans of the artist who perhaps are unable to visit his installations in-situ. Instead, they have the chance to live with a nuanced replica or blueprint in a cyclical process where the public becomes private, the collective experience, domestic.

What makes JR’s work so special is that he looks at people—truly looks. In turn, we as viewers are able to look as well, but not in a way that speaks to otherness, but rather as an invitation into the familiarity of humanness and what it means to be alive.

Words Katy Diamond Hamer

Photography Guillaume Ziccarelli/Courtesy of the artist & Perrotin ©

You May Also Like

New York Record Store Live Broadcasts events record labels commend Mexican Summer A1 Records Baby's All Right Baby TV The Lot Radio

Time for a Sonic Intervention

Live broadcasts and rare releases—here’s what our favorite record labels, stores, and venues are up to. 
Downtown Cocktails to-go happy hour drinks new york

Happy Hour: Cocktails To-Go

It's 5 o'clock somewhere...
Guide downtown delivery takeout wayan i sodi raoul's soho diner Miss lily's llama san il buco

Feed Me: Downtown Delivery & Takeout

food & drink
Italian classics, bistro fare, island cooking and more—these local restaurants have you covered morning, noon and night.
Lower East Side New York shopping Boutique Designer Bode Maryam Nassir Zadeh Assembly Only NY Eckhaus Latta

Walk This Way: Boutique Shopping on the LES

We’ve rounded up our favorite LES-based boutiques for your shopping pleasure. 
New York Spring Gardens Downtown Elizabeth Street Garden Gramercy Park Washington Square Park

Diggin' It: Downtown Garden Escapes

food & drink
Lunch date, garden party, solo respite—these 5 outdoor spots have your alfresco needs covered.
Yayoi Kusama Cosmic Nature Brooklyn Botanical Garden may New York Art Exhibition

Spring Forward: Must-See Art Shows

art & design
Art lovers, get that calendar app fired up and drop in these can’t-miss spring art shows.
Kerry Pieri Lauren McCarthy Gabrielle Korn Harpers Bazaar Nylon Editors Guide NYFW New York

NYFW: The Editors Have Spoken

As the Fall Winter 2020 international runway collections kick off in New York, three heavyweight fashion editors share their insights.
Natural Organic wine Guide NYC Wildair Ten Bells Frenchette Racines Hemlock

Natural High: Where to Sip Organic Wine Downtown

food & drink
If you ever needed a reason to drink wine, this is sure to be it.
Best Rate Promise
Soho Grand Hotel

310 West Broadway
New York, NY 10013

(212) 965-3000
The Roxy Hotel Tribeca

2 6th Avenue
New York, NY 10013