Making the Louvre disappear

French street artist JR has produced an enormous optical illusion by covering the Louvre pyramid in “a surprising anamorphic image”, in lieu of his exhibition, Contemporary art – JR at the Louvre.

Where once the great glass pyramid, designed by I.M Pei, glistened in front of the Louvre Place; now, all that is immediately visible to the naked eye is the Louvre Palace, thanks to a trick of the eye.

The art of trompe l’oeil – or fooling the eye – is centuries old, but JR uses it on a grander scale than ever in this instance. It is also the grandest location JR has fly-posted yet; since he started out fly-posting the streets of Paris 10 years ago JR has travelled the world, from favelas in Rio, the Middle East, the favelas of Rio, the slums of Kenya. He says “The most important thing is where I put my photos and the meaning they take on depending on the place.”

Over the last several years his work has appeared on the façade of numerous notable monuments and museums – including the Pantheon in Rome and The Tate Modern in London; but making the façade of the Louvre disappear is probably the greatest signifier his work is being accepted by the establishment.

In an interview with artdaily, JR said, “Making the Pyramid disappear is a way for me to distance myself from my subject. The feud between traditional and modern tastes in art and architecture is nothing new. The Pyramid, Buren’s columns at the Palais-Royal, and the Pompidou Center—all of these caused controversy. My work is about transmitting history to better understand the present, and find echoes with our own times. What happened in the past is part of a broader context that can still have relevance for today. By erasing the Louvre Pyramid, I am highlighting the way Pei made the Louvre relevant for his time, while bringing the Louvre back to its original state. The Pyramid is one of the most photographed French monuments. I am re-directing its energy, because people are going to have to move around it. They are going to look for the best angle to get the full impact of the anamorphic image, and really make the Pyramid disappear.”

Jonathan Jones of the Guardian said in response to JR’s anamorphic creation, “Please can JR also cover the Shard and some of London’s other skyscraper citadels of wealth and power with pictures of clouds so we can’t see them anymore?”