JR is a French artist known for his large-scale photographic works that often address social and political issues. Born on February 22, 1983, in Paris, JR grew up in the banlieues, or suburbs, surrounding the city. He first became interested in graffiti as a teenager and began creating large-scale murals in the streets. After studying at the Ecole Nationale Supérieure des Arts Décoratifs in Paris, he began experimenting with photography and street art.
In 2004, JR found his calling when he started the "Portrait of a Generation" project, a series of black-and-white portraits of young people from the banlieues. He pasted these portraits on walls and rooftops throughout the city, often in unexpected places, to give visibility to a group of people who were often marginalized in French society. The project quickly gained attention and was featured in a number of exhibitions and publications.
In 2007, JR began working on "Face 2 Face," a project that involved pasting portraits of Israelis and Palestinians face to face on both sides of the Separation Wall in the West Bank. The project was meant to challenge preconceived notions and promote dialogue between the two communities. The portraits were also displayed in various cities around the world, including Paris, Berlin, and New York.
JR continued to push the boundaries of street art and photography with his "Women Are Heroes" project in 2008. This project consisted of large-scale portraits of women from different countries, which were pasted on walls and buildings in their communities. The project aimed to celebrate women and draw attention to their struggles and the injustices they face around the world.
In 2011, JR collaborated with the film director Agnès Varda on the documentary film "Faces, Places," which followed the two artists as they traveled through rural France and created large-scale portraits of the people they met along the way. The film was a critical and commercial success, and was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature.
In recent years, JR has continued to create large-scale photographic works that engage with social and political issues. In 2018, he created an installation at the US-Mexico border consisting of a giant photograph of a child peering over the border wall. The installation was meant to draw attention to the issue of immigration and the separation of families at the border.
JR's work has been exhibited in galleries and museums around the world, including the Centre Pompidou in Paris, the Tate Modern in London, and the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles. He has also been awarded numerous accolades for his work, including the TED Prize in 2011 and the Robert Capa Gold Medal in 2017.
JR's work continues to inspire and provoke audiences around the world, challenging us to see the world and the people around us in new and meaningful ways.