JR’s Towering Photographs of Athletes Impress in Rio

by Andy SmithPosted on

This year, JR became one of the Olympic Games’ first artists in residence. And the French artist took the opportunity to a grand level with three massive sculptures scattered across Rio. JR’s black-and-white photos of athletes, erected with scaffolding, loom over passers-by, whether jumping over a building or plunging into the water. The images were installed in Flamengo, Botafogo, and Barra da Tijuca, respectively. JR was featured in Hi-Fructose Vol. 17.


The photo of the swimmer mid-stroke, with a wingspan of 98 feet, depicts Leonie Periault, a French triathlete.The high-jumper is Sudanese athlete Ali Mohd Younes Idriss, who like Periault, wasn’t in the Olympics contender this year. These pieces are tethered to the artist’s ongoing Inside Out Project, in which figures that are typically unrecognized on a global scale are brought to the forefront. These are athletes who may make it to the Olympics in the future, yet for now, represent the drive needed in that pursuit.

JR maintains that the street is the “largest art gallery in the world,” and that’s where you see much of the work produced by the artist. He recently had altered the Louvre Pyramid in Paris, using his images to render the structure “invisible” from a specific angle.






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