JR exhibits freely in the streets of the world, catching the attention of people who are not typical museum visitors, from the suburbs of Paris and the slums of Brazil to the streets of New York, pasting huge portraits of anonymous people, from Kibera to Istanbul and Los Angeles to Shanghai. In 2011, he received the TED Prize, after which he created Inside Out, an international participatory art project that allows people worldwide to get their picture taken and paste it to support an idea and share their experience—as of May 2020, over 420,000 people from more than 140 countries have participated, through mail or gigantic photobooths. His recent projects include a large-scale pasting in a maximum security prison in California; a TIME magazine cover about Guns in America; a video mural including 1,200 people presented at San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; a collaboration with New York City Ballet; an Academy Award-nominated feature documentary co-directed with Nouvelle Vague legend Agnès Varda; a huge installation on the Pantheon in Paris; the pasting of a container ship; the pyramid of the Louvre; a monumental mural, à la Diego Rivera, in the suburbs of Paris; giant scaffolding installations at the 2016 Rio Olympics; an exhibition on the abandoned hospital of Ellis Island; a social restaurant for the homeless and refugees in Paris; and a gigantic installation at the US-Mexico border fence. As he remains anonymous and doesn’t explain his huge full-frame portraits of people making faces, JR leaves the space empty for an encounter between the subject/protagonist and the passer-by/interpreter. JR has been based in New York City for the past eight years and was on TIME magazine’s “100 Most Influential People” list in 2018.
JR holding one of Martha Cooper’s street play photos he's about to paste in a large size, Manhattan, NYC, 2013. Photo © Martha Cooper.