Museum Stories

Vanishing Pyramid: JR’s Art at the Louvre Museum

Montaine Dumont 23 August 2021 min Read

In 2016, the urban photographer “JR” decided to visually remove the famous pyramid known as the modern symbol of the Louvre. Three years later, he expands on the very same by revealing fantasized foundations. Let’s have a look at the link between JR and the icon of the world’s largest museum.

The French artist JR in the Napoleon courtyard, Paris, 2016.
The French artist JR in the Napoleon courtyard, Paris, 2016. France24.

Whether in 2016 or 2019, JR‘s art at the Louvre is comprised of basically the same tools. In the Napoleon courtyard of the palace, frequented by thousands of tourists every day, a black and white photograph made from square meters of paper stages an illusion whose dimensions are on the scale of the imagination of the artist.

JR's photographic anamorphosis, Paris, Louvre Museum, 2016.
JR’s photographic anamorphosis, 2016, Louvre, Paris, France. Masculin.

In 2016, JR shed light on his first “Louvresque” illusion with his first photographic anamorphosis. An image of the Renaissance architecture of the palace, usually made invisible by the glass and iron aedicule, is glued to the most photographed side of the pyramid, hiding the modern icon of the museum from our view. Thus, with a brilliant trompe-l’oeil effect, JR revealed to the public today what our elders saw before the 1980s, before the construction of the pyramid by Ieoh Ming Pei.

JR's photographic anamorphosis, Paris, Louvre Museum, 2016.
JR’s photographic anamorphosis, 2016, Louvre, Paris, France. Pinterest.

This programmed disappearance was actually part of the “Unframed” project that has been presided over by the artist since 2009. JR, then, gave a new meaning to archive images by reintegrating them into their original architectural context in a desire to reactivate our collective memory.

JR and volunteers preparing The Secret of the Great Pyramid, Paris, Louvre Museum, 2019.
JR and volunteers preparing The Secret of the Great Pyramid, 2019, Louvre, Paris, France. Parismatch.

Three years later, the artist, recognizable by his dark hat and glasses, sets his sights once again on the glass pyramid, which, in 2019, celebrates its 30th anniversary. 400 volunteers took turns to glue 17,000 square meters of paper. Through this new photographic illusion, JR reveals to tourists the totally imaginary foundations of the pyramid, thus wanting to reveal phantasmagorical secrets around the icon.

However, many passers-by were disappointed with the ephemeral nature of the work, which, from the first contact with the footsteps of visitors, began to crumble. Nevertheless, for the urban photographer, nothing is more normal.

“Images, like life, are ephemeral,” he wrote in response to the disappointed spectators. “Once glued, the work of art has a life of its own. The sun dried up the light glue, and with each step people tore pieces of the fragile paper. This process is all about the participation of volunteers, visitors and souvenir hunters,” he says.

JR, The Secret of the Great Pyramid, Paris, Louvre Museum, 2019.
JR, The Secret of the Great Pyramid, 2019, Louvre, Paris, France. Parismatch.

Thus, illusions at an imposing scale, sometimes tinged with fantasies and sometimes with historicity, the photography signed “JR” tends to access the universal through its scope that is as striking as it is ephemeral.

JR, The Secret of the Great Pyramid, Paris, Louvre Museum, 2019.
JR, The Secret of the Great Pyramid, 2019, Louvre, Paris, France. Creapills.

Recommended

Room view, Museo Egizio, Turin, Italy Museum Stories

Museo Egizio in Turin: Follow the Guide!

Have you ever been to the Museo Egizio in Turin, in northern Italy? Located in the old town, this institution brings together more than 300,000...

Montaine Dumont 13 January 2022

Museo Soumaya, Mexico City, Mexico Museo Soumaya Museum Stories

Museo Soumaya – 21st Century Spectacle in Mexico City

Frida Kahlo‘s self portraits and reproductions of Our Lady of Guadalupe are baked into the symbolism of Mexico City. Comparable to these...

Jennifer S. Musawwir 10 January 2022

The Palace Museum interior, Beijing, China - 7 amazing Chinese museums Museum Stories

7 Amazing Chinese Museums

While China is still generally closed to international travel, we can always virtually explore the great museums it has to offer. China has hundreds...

Joanna Kaszubowska 17 January 2022

Museum Stories

The Treasures of the Bargello National Museum

Museo Nazionale del Bargello or the Bargello National Museum is among Florence’s most important museums along with the Uffizi Gallery and the...

Maya Tola 2 December 2021