Portraits, at their best, are a form of art that connects emotions and people. JR, a virtually unknown French photographer and artist, uses this understanding to paint the streets. Seeing the streets as the best place to display art, JR uses his photography like a graffiti artist to challenge the monster that is the media. Through his work he tackles ideas of human’s questions of freedom, identity and the boundaries. JR has been quoted as saying, “in the street, we reach people who never go to museums.” The first project that launched his growing interest was his “Portrait of a Generation,” which captures the youth culture of France at the time. This illegal project would help him gain attention after the piece became official when Paris City Hall was built with his photos.
His most famous public work has to be the project “Inside Out.” In “Inside Out” he takes pictures of men/women and displays them telling untold stories. This project which was funded by the winnings awarded to him from the TED ( it chooses winners to receive 100,000 and a wish to change the world) prize in 2011. JR’s mission statement for the project goes as such, “I wish for you to stand up for what you care about by participating in a global art project, and together we’ll change the world…inside out.” “The INSIDE OUT” project has traveled from Ecuador to Nepal, from Mexico to Palestine, inspiring group actions on varied themes such as hope, diversity, gender-based violence, climate change.” The project has involved over 200,000 people and as many categories which make each part of the project very unique. This is not JR’s only project as he as many other great works such as a recent cover of the New York Times Magazine. I definitely recommend checking out his work on his site and Instagram page. JR still remains anonymous and doesn’t fully explain any of his huge portraits he leaves the viewers as the one to interpret the works by asking question about themselves.