17 stupendous works of art

Giant images pasted on buildings, streets, and bridges

By mysterious French artist JR
French artist JR works anonymously, but the giant images he pastes on buildings, streets, and bridges around the world are meant to put faces on often-ignored slices of society, from victims of crime to the elderly.

The "photograffeur" — that's a combination of photographer and graffiti artist — prints humongous versions of the portraits he takes, often in black and white, and "flyposts" them where he chooses. The exhibits span whole cities and continents. JR, who has received a TED Prize for his work, sees the streets as his stage and says he "owns the biggest art gallery in the world."

Keep scrolling to see some of the artist's most visually arresting works.

In early 2014, JR took portraits of dozens of people, and turned them into a collage around the dome of the Pantheon in Paris while it was under construction. The installation depicted "the diversity of the contemporary world."

More of the artist's portraits displayed under the dome of the Pantheon in Paris.

For another exhibit, JR created an upside-down portrait of paper strips. It covered the facade of the French National Library in Paris in November 2013.

In 2013, JR organized photographs of garment workers around a slum in Dhaka, Bangladesh. The photos were intended to be "a celebration of the hardworking Bengali woman, in support of their struggle for socio-economic justice."

Here, boats carry local residents past the project, called "Dignity in Industry."

Starting in 2011, JR and his team photographed individuals as part of a global project called "Inside Out." These portraits were pasted on walls in a central part Shanghai in 2014.

A woman walks through a display of JR's portraits in downtown Shanghai. The artist and his team set up a photo studio and printing equipment in a truck to capture the portraits.

A man holds a portrait of himself taken as part of "Inside Out."

A different part of "Inside Out" is displayed on the roof of a foot bridge at Hong Kong's Financial Central District in 2012.

Volunteers in Caracas put up large portraits of women whose children were victims of violence in 2011. More than 50 portraits were pasted around the city as part JR's project "Esperanza."

For "Wrinkles of the City," JR's plastered murals of the elderly around various cities. In this photo, a bird flies past Berlin's decorated television tower.

A man walks beside another creation by JR near the Berlin cathedral.

For another iteration of "Wrinkles of the City," JR worked with Cuban-American artist Jose Parla to create images of the elderly in Cuba and paste them along with Parla's calligraphic messages around Havana.

Another creation by JR and Parla for Havana's "Wrinkles of the City" in 2012.

In 2014, volunteers hung an installation by JR outside the UN Headquarters in New York City. The work featured portraits of 13 Iranian "prisoners of rights."

JR covered the walls of homes in favela Providencia in Rio de Janeiro with photographs of women in 2008. The project, called "Women Are Heroes," depicted women whose relatives were the victims of clashes between police and drug traffickers.

"Women are Heroes" was also displayed in Paris. JR placed an illustration of a pair of eyes along a riverbank in the city in 2009.


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